THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Miroslav Klose equals Germany record

icon gerdmuller10 September ~ First Lionel Messi beat his record for goals in a calendar year. Now Gerd Müller's German international scoring record will be overhauled if Miroslav Klose scores today against the Faroe Islands. While chasing down those 85 goals in a year, Messi failed to score against Celta Vigo last November, on Müller's 67th birthday. Now the latter's most famous record – 68 goals for Germany – will go in his 68th year. Klose's first international strike, like Müller's, came at home to Albania. Both managed 14 goals in World Cup finals tournaments, both have won the World Cup Golden Boot.

Yet Klose is 35 years old, his next international appearance will be his 130th – Müller retired after his 62nd cap, aged 28.

Müller seems to be a humble man familiar with hardship – born just months after the Second World War, he quickly lost his father and later struggled with alcoholism as his playing career wound down in the US. Before Friday's international match he encouraged Klose to go out and beat his record. Müller's tallies are being caught but it's questionable whether his stats are being truly equalled, and it's almost certain his prowess isn't being matched. Messi has won no World Cups or Copa Américas and has a "mere" 35 goals in 82 internationals. Müller has World Cup gold and bronze medals and a European Championship. It took Filippo Inzaghi approximately 40 more games than Müller to equal his 67 goals in all European club competition.

Müller is still regarded as the poacher par excellence, with phenomenal reactions, killer instinct and unstinting bravery in the box. Yet in his history of German football, Tor!, Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger explains "Der Bomber", probably coined by a British journalist, is the most famous but least appropriate of Müller's nicknames. Despite 365 Bundesliga goals Müller claims he was as clueless as the poor goalkeepers about where he'd put the ball. Footage of his myriad goal celebrations show someone always eagerly thanking team-mates. His brace in the 1974 European Cup final replay against Atlético Madrid – a volley and a lob – proved he could do the spectacular. His versatility was exemplified in the following year's final, switching to midfield after Leeds' Terry Yorath put Bjorn Andersson out the game (Müller still scored the winner though).

The 21st century's expanded competitions and extended careers have launched an inadvertent but sustained celebration of Müller's accomplishments. When Brazil's Ronaldo scored against Japan in the 2006 World Cup to equal Müller's finals record, and then against Ghana a few days later to beat it, both games took place at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, where Müller opened his account against Albania in 1967. The symbolism sharpened the comparisons: Ronaldo's total required an extra tournament and six more finals matches.

The more his records are threatened and caught, the more valid they become. Arriving at Bayern in 2003, Dutch striker Roy Makaay seemed a possible challenger to Müller's 1971-72 feat of 40 goals in a Bundesliga campaign. The most he managed in any season was 23. When Müller set that record his strike partner Uli Hoeness chipped in another 13 goals. This allowed Wolfsburg's 2008-09 front pairing of Edin Dzeko (26 goals) and Grafite (28) to be deemed the biggest scoring partnership in Bundesliga history. Claims on Gerd Müller records are usually this tenuous. But he'll be first to congratulate the claimants. Alex Anderson

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