The 50,000 Bundesliga goals scored over the past 54 years have gone hand-in-hand with ecstatic highs and devastating lows – and they have created heroes and villains throughout the colourful history of Germany's elite football clubs. With the goal counter to ticking past the milestone 50k, bundesliga.com takes a closer look at some of the strikes that have gone down in Bundesliga folklore.
The Bundesliga has been blessed with great goalscorers in recent years. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Robert Lewandowski and Claudio Pizarro are all excellent strikers but none are likely to match the all-time topscorer: Gerd Müller.
Watch: One of Müller's most iconic Bundesliga goals:
Before he became an FC Bayern München legend, Müller was already a prodigious goalscorer. In the 1962/1963 season, he netted an incredible 180 out of the 204 goals his home town club – TSV 1861 Nördlingen – managed at youth level.
He was swiftly promoted to the first team and helped them earn promotion to the Landesliga in his only year for the club at senior level. “Where the ball was, Müller was there too,” his former Nördlingen teammate Martin Jeromin told Süddeutsche Zeitung many years later. “It was incredible. He loved the ball.”
Munich is some 140 kilometres further south of there but news travelled fast about the teenager with a seemingly insatiable appetite for goalscoring. The story goes that FC Bayern pipped their then more successful neighbours TSV 1860 München to Müller’s signature by a matter of minutes. It is undoubtedly the best 4,400 Deutschmarks that the club ever spent.
The 18-year-old joined the now record champions in July 1964, the year after the Bundesliga was formed. Franz Beckenbauer and Sepp Maier were there too but the Bavarian club were not yet the giants they would become. Unlike 1860 München, they were still in the Regionalliga Süd, a local division, rather than in the top flight itself.
Legend has it that Bayern coach Zlatko Cajkovski was not initially impressed by his squat, stocky new attacker. “What should I do with this kid – this physique?” he reportedly asked. “Impossible.” But some pressure from the club’s president saw the new kid on the block make his debut – and score, of course – in an 11-2 win over Freiburger FC on October, 18, 1964.
Müller rarely looked back after that. FCB won promotion the same season, with the future West Germany international weighing in with 33 goals. He made his Bundesliga debut in August 1965 against 1860 and went on to score 14 goals in 33 matches in that first campaign – a modest total, as it would turn out, by his breathtaking standards.
Everything that FC Bayern has become, it owes to Gerd Müller. Franz Beckenbauer
Bayern finished third in the league that season but won the DFB Cup. The following year Müller’s 28 goals helped him become the Bundesliga top goalscorer for the first time, along with Borussia Dortmund’s Lothar Emmerich, as the Munich club won both the German Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
The man who became known as 'Der Bomber' had a low centre of gravity. His ability to eke out a yard of space with a sharp turn inside the box was combined with impressive agility for someone who stood at only 5’ 7” tall.
He won the first of his four Bundesliga titles in the 1968/1969 season - 30 goals coming from the league’s topscorer. And year on year the Bundesliga goals kept coming: 38, 22, 40 (a single-season record), 36, 30, 23, 23, 28, 24. In total, Müller was his club’s topscorer 13 seasons in a row and the league’s top goalscorer on seven occasions.
He finished with a record 365 Bundesliga goals in 427 games, not to mention 68 goals in 62 games at international level including 14 in the World Cup. To put that into perspective, Lewandowski has played half as many matches in the German top flight, but his total of 136 Bundesliga goals is just over a third of the record set by the league's all-time top scorer.
Müller’s Bayern won the European Cup three times in a row between 1974 and 1976 and he also won the European Championship in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974 with West Germany. Müller, the master marksman, won the Ballon d’Or in 1970.