Gerd Muller - 'bomber' of Germany

He required astonishingly little space and time for his split-seconds finishes – a quick flick sufficed.

West Germany's goal-scoring machine Gerd Muller (on left) watches another of his efforts saved by a leaping Luis Rubinos, the Peru goal-keeper during 1970 World Cup game in Mexico.   -  The Hindu Archives

In his two World Championships (1970 and 1974) Gerd Muller tucked no fewer than fourteen goals into the net; which makes an astounding average of more than one goal per match. He did full justice to his nickname of "bomber of the nation" by hitting the target 68 times in his 62 games for his national team.

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Germany's ace scorer was of course also crowned with success for his club team. In his 427 Bundesliga games for Bayem Munich FC, Muller totted up a total of 365 goals in his inimitable fashion. He was equally incomparable in Cup games and in the European Cup where his plethora of goals contributed largely to Munich's huge success.

"Muller and/or Seeler?" was the big question splashed across the headlines before the World Cup in Mexico in 1970. National coach, Helmut Schon, solved the problem imaginatively by placing Seeler in midfield and Muller as spearhead of the attack. The two of them in tandem were quite formidable.

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Muller scored seven goals in the first round and his brilliant volley, bringing the score to 3-2 in extra time in the quarter-final against England, was revenge for Germany's defeat in the final four years previously. This was followed by the unforgettable and exciting semifinal between FR Germany vs Italy, also going into extra time after a 1-1 draw at the end of normal time. In the ensuing 30 minutes, Muller scored 2-1 and 3-3. But not even he could retaliate against the fourth Italian goal.

Italy was in the final:

Muller had to make do with the role of top marksman. They did pull it off four years later however. Catching the ball on the curve and skimming it hard past the legs of Dutch goal-keeper, Jongbloed, into the far comer of the net, Muller brought the score up to 2-1 in the final of the World Cup in Munich. A typical Muller goal had made PR Germany world champions for the second time since 1954.

 

Gerd Muller knew that he was judged on the strength of his goals. His youth coach had thought he was slow and inept. But, ironically it was precisely his very often unspectacular shots that helped bring him world fame. He required astonishingly little space and time for his split-seconds finishes – a quick flick sufficed. His seemingly inherent intuition and instinctive positioning were incomparable. What is more, although he was inevitably marked very closely by the opposing defenders, he remained a fair player throughout his entire career.

It was chiefly due to his goals that Bayern Munich became champions four times (1969, 1972-74) and four times Cup winners (1966, 1967, 1969, 1971). They won the European Champions' Cup three times (1974-76) and in 1967 the European Cup Winners' Cup. Muller was the Bundesliga's top scorer seven times, as well as two-fold winner of the Golden Shoe as Europe's best scorer (1970 and 1972). In 1979 a new chapter commenced in the life of this man who was nominated European 'Footballer of the Year' in 1970 and who played three times in a FIFA selection. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Smiths Brothers Lounge each hired his services for two years.

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