Gerd Muller

Full name: Gerhard Müller
Date of birth: 03/11/1945


Introduction

Gerd Muller was born in Nordlingen, Germany on November 3rd 1945. He grew up playing football locally, despite never being the tallest or most obviously sporting boy on his team. His sheer determination and extremely fast acceleration continued to put him ahead of his contemporaries however, a trademark which remained a key part of his game for his entire career. He was given the nickname “The Bomber” and “Short, fat Muller” for his skills and stature. He is now revered as one of the most important goalscorers of all time, and was certainly one of the most eminent European players of his generation.


Career Overview

The first team Muller was signed to was TSV 1861 Nordlingen, his local team. He played one season, 1963/64, where he scored 51 goals over 32 appearances. The next season he moved up to the Regional South League to play with Bayern Munich, alongside Franz Beckenbauer and Sepp Maier. This strong partnership allowed the team to move into the Bundesliga, and the team went on to win a great string of successes throughout the next decade. The team won the German Championship and German Cup four times each, European Champion’s Cup and International Cup three times each and the European Cup Winner’s Cup once. His scoring rate, 365 goals in 425 games in the Bundesliga, is reflected by his host of scoring record titles. He also notably scored four goals in a mere fifteen minutes in 1972 against the then USSR.

His international career really saw him shine, particularly in the extremely important matches. His first set of successes on this stage came in the 1970 Mexico World Cup. He scored 10 goals in 6 matches, which included two successive hat tricks. England’s reign as World Cup Champions was put to an end by a goal from Muller 12 minutes before the end of extra time. Germany then went out 4-3 in the semi-final to Italy, a game which went into extra time and saw two goals from Muller. He scored 14 goals in the tournament and was the all time highest World Cup goalscorer until 2006. The following World Cup was hosted by Germany, and the Bomber came into his element and received huge praise for his performance in the cup. He narrowly missed out on the top scorer award, but scored the winning goal in the final against Holland which ended 2-1. This was to be his final international appearance.

He left Bayern Munich in 1979 and moved across the Atlantic to play in the North American Soccer League with Fort Lauderdale Strikers. His success in the German league was not repeated in his time in the United States. He scored a respectable 38 goals across 3 seasons but the team lost the league final in 1980 and it seemed his football career was coming to a close by then. He finally ducked out of football in 1982.

After a turbulent decade in his personal life, Muller returned to football at his old club, Bayern Munich, where he continues to work as an amateur coach. Adidas have re-released a line of special limited edition retro clothing under Muller’s name that is highly sought after by football enthusiasts and fashionistas alike.


Achievements


Personal

  • International Caps for West Germany – 62
  • International Goals for West Germany – 68
  • 1970 European Footballer of the Year
  • Bundesliga Top Scorer 1971/1972 with 40 goals
  • International Federation for Football Statistics “World Football’s Greatest Goalscorer of All Time” (2000)
  • 7 Times Bundesliga Top Scorer
  • German Footballer of the Year, 1967 and 1969.
  • European Championship Top Scorer 1972
  • European Champion’s Cup Top Scorer 1974
  • German Top Scorer, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1978


Team Titles With Bayern Munich

  • European Cup Winner’s Cup Champion 1967
  • Bundesliga Champions 1969,1972,1973,1974
  • German Cup Champions 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971


Team Titles With West Germany

  • European Championship Winners 1972
  • World Cup Champion 1970
  • European Champion’s Cup 1974, 1975, 1976


Playing Style

Owing to his amazing goalscoring achievements, Muller is often cited as someone that young, determined players aspire to emulate. Van Nistelrooy, the Dutch international, for example has often been compared to Muller in his persistence and determination. Muller seemed to score goals which mattered, and could often have massive outcomes. His West Germany manager, Helmut Schoen, once referred to him as his “scorer of little goals”, emphasising the importance of his goals with regard to the 1974 World Cup Final and 1967 Cup Winner’s Cup final.

This phrase could also be interpreted as a sly hint to the fact that some regarded Muller as somewhat of a “poacher” of goals, although this is a rather harsh judgement. It is probably born out of the fact that Muller’s goals were scored almost entirely from inside the penalty box, and often generated from nothing. His strong physical presence (he weighed around 80kgs and stood at 5’9”) made his agility and sharp turns even more devastating. His low centre of gravity allowed him to be far more agile within the box and this was also useful in his short, sharp runs which would burst out of nowhere in the most important situations. Despite not being a greatly wide-thinking player in terms of his ball placement around the pitch and making complex passing plays, his instinct on the ball was second to none in his generation.


Personal Life

After he finished playing football professionally, Muller seemed in need of something to fill the evident void that the sport had left in his life. Like many other successful players he sadly turned to alcohol and a terrible period of alcoholism ensued. This continued for many years, and despite trying to mask his problem, it was public knowledge that his life had taken a turn for the worse. Thankfully he eventually sought support from his old club Bayern Munich who aided him in taking on a rehabilitation programme. After several attempts, Muller finally overcame his alcohol dependency and the club offered him a job as an amateur coach in the hope that he would not turn back to the bottle. Things appear to be going well now for Muller and he continues to coach at the club.


Player Statistics

Senior Club and National Team Statistics
Period Team Appearances (Goals)
1963-1964 TSV 1861 Nördlingen 32 (51)
1964-1979 F.C. Bayern Munich 453 (398)
1979-1981 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 80 (40)
1966-1974 West Germany 62 (68)