1974 World Cup: Gerd Mueller

The “Nation’s Bomber

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Gerd Mueller made world football’s history book in the chapter dealing with the 1970 World Cup, as the event’s best striker with 10 goals.
The German holds third place for goals scored at one World Cup behind Frenchman Just Fontaine (13/1958) and Hungarian Sandor Kosics (11/1954).

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Gerd Mueller played in two FIFA World Cups, in Mexico 1970 and the Federal Republic of Germany 1974. He was top goalscorer with 14 goals before Ronaldo superseded him in 2006. (Photo: Kunz/Augenklick)

Gerd Mueller’s German team finished third in Mexico 1970..Four year’s later Mueller celebrated as a World Cup champion. “Little, stout Mueller” netted his fourth goal of that tournament in his home-town Munich, and was the decisive scorer in the World Cup final. On July 7, 1974, the player in the number 13 shirt hit the winning goal for Germany’s second World Cup title since 1954, in front of 77,822 spectators at the Olympic Stadium. Two minutes before the halftime break Mueller netted with a turning shot to make it 2-1 against the Netherlands.
The record scorer could meet the target from any positionFor decades Mueller topped the all-time World Cup goalscoring list with his 10 goals in six matches in Mexico, and four goals in seven games in Germany. Prior to the 2010 World Cup Mueller still holds second position in this ranking behind Ronaldo (Brazil/19 matches/15 goals/average 0.79) with his 14 goals in 13 matches (average 1.08), ahead of Just Fontaine (6 matches/13 goals/average 2.17).Mueller once described the philosophy of the “The Nation’s Bomber”: “You must have instinct. You can’t learn to score goals. You simply have to react quickly. If you think, it’s already too late.” Sepp Maier analysed the creation of Mueller goals from the goalkeeper’s viewpoint: “Gerd simply used his backside to push his opponents away in the box”. In this or a similar style Mueller made his first international appearance in 1966, and ended his international career with winning the 1974 World Cup title. He scored an incredible 68 goals in 62 international matches. He retired from German Football Association, DFB, action much too early. In the night after the World Cup final, Mueller quit out of annoyance with some DFB officials.
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Gerd Mueller is one of the world’s most successful strikers. He scored 68 goals in 64 international matches. He also netted in the 1972 EURO final against the USSR (3-0). (Photo: Baumann/Augenklick)
There was another top highlight during Mueller’s career: He became European champion in 1972 with possibly the best DFB team of all times. At the mini tournament in Belgium, with just two matches against Belgium and the Soviet Union, the Munich player was top scorer with four goals. The news magazine “Spiegel” then ennobled Mueller as the “Helmut Rahn of the Seventies”.A legend in the Bundesliga, a failure in the USA
Mueller started his football career with TSV 1861 Noerdlingen. He joined FC Bayern Munich in 1964 and never moved to another German club. Later he played in Fort Lauderdale in Florida when professional football was launched in the USA. Mueller’s record in the Bundesliga: 365 goals in 427 matches. Such statistics turn players into legends. “All our successes would have been impossible without Gerd. We owe Mueller everything”, was how Franz Beckenbauer paid tribute to his long-time team and room-mate.

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The Munich tabloid “tz” wrote in a similar vein: “He stood where there was a ball at hand. And he got hold of it more than anybody else. A master of close, but important goals. A World Cup champion, though not tall, with a great instinct for goals. He scored goals from the most unusual position with all limbs, sometimes while sitting, sometimes while lying, mainly with his feet, but also with his head. Often when you thought the match was over. In times when Germany finally won, or prevented a defeat. Mainly thanks to the goalscoring legend Gerd Mueller. Legendary”.Mueller was a star. But as today he never liked to be at the centre of attention. At the beginning of the 1990s Mueller was threatened with hardship and his life appeared on a downward path. His business in the USA had failed, and he had alcohol problems. Manager Uli Hoeness gave his former team-mate a job with FC Bayern: at first Mueller was the goalkeeping coach, then coaching assistant with the amateurs. Mueller later admitted honestly: “Thank God, everything turned out well. I suffered greatly. I doubt I would have made it without the help of my friends”. Mueller remains the assistant coach to Hermann Gerland with the FC Bayern juniors in the 3rd league. His contract runs until 2010. Then Mueller can retire – as one of the greatest football players the world has ever seen.

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