Gerd Müller celebrated his birthday on 3 November and that presents a good opportunity for bundesliga.com to look back over the life and impressive career of the 'Bomber der Nation'.
Here, we look at his record-breaking 1971/72 season...
Including friendly matches, appearances for select XIs and indoors, Gerd Müller totalled 151 goals in 100 games in 1971/72. A unique achievement, even for him. For the third time in a row, he was rated 'world class' by Kicker magazine, and it could be said that Müller reached the zenith of his career.
In Bayern's club museum, there is a special exhibition celebrating three particular anniversaries: Franz Beckenbauer's 70th, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's 60th and Gerd Müller's 70th. The record German champions thought up something special to commemorate their bomber: 101 balls hang from the ceiling at the centre of the exhibition, 40 are red and white, symbolising the contribution he made to that 1971/72 season in terms of league goals. Many players have tried and failed to emulate Müller's scoring achievement with only one coming anywhere near – Müller himself, in 1972/73 with 36 goals and 1969/70 with 38.
How did he reach the 40-goal mark?
1970/71 was Müller's sixth season and it did not live up to his usual standards. With just 22 goals, he had to hand his golden boot award – or cannon as it is known in Germany – to Lothar Kobluhn of Oberhausen. That riled him, so he did not spend his summer holiday in Italy just relaxing on the beach.
When pre-season training came around, hardly anybody could recognise him with his moustache, long hair and 72kg – the lightest Müller of all time. He only supplied one of Bayern's first 12 goals of the season, though, missing another from the penalty spot. He missed a further two penalties in the first half of the season, first against Bochum and then against Stuttgart a week later. He was so frustrated by this, he decided he would no longer be Bayern's penalty taker, seemingly struggling to score the 'easiest' goals, when he took the more difficult ones in his stride. Few would have been able to guess how good a season he was going to have when, after ten matches, he had only four goals.
Slowly into his stride
A brace against Hannover got the engine warmed, and two more came against Duisburg and three against Hamburg – a 13-minute hat-trick which catapulted him to the top of the scoring charts on 30 October 1971, and there was no looking back.
In Bayern's biggest ever Bundesliga win of 11-1 on 27 November against a desolate Dortmund, who were relegated at the end of the season, he scored four. At the midway stage of the season, Müller had scored 17 of Bayern's 47 goals, but there was still another half of a season to be played.
'I feel such deep gratitude to this club from the bottom of my heart.'
Müller did not make the best of starts to the second half of the season either, with just one goal in the first three games, but then RW Oberhausen arrived at the Grünwalder Straße stadium. It was a day Müller will remember fondly, since he scored five goals in a 7-0 win for Bayern. "I've got to praise myself today," said Müller, otherwise so humble. Those five goals took him onto 23 for the season – more than the number of games played (21) and he continued scoring and earning his side points, up to Matchday 27. He then became a little distracted: an offer was on the table from Feyenoord but he ultimately chose to commit to a new deal with Bayern on 31 March 1972. "I grew up at FC Bayern München and I have my friends here," he said. "I feel such deep gratitude to this club from the bottom of my heart."
Bayern were not able to shake off their challengers Schalke, but Müller was head and shoulders above the rest in his personal competition. When he reached 34 goals on 15 April 1972, his closest rivals Klaus Fischer and Hannover's Ferdinand Keller barely had half as many – 18. Even in such an amazing season, he failed to beat Detlev Pirsig in the MSV Duisburg goal, but he put two past his favourite opponents Hamburger SV, also earning the late penalty which earned Bayern a 4-3 win. He's firing on all cylinders at the end of May with two goals against Cologne in a 4-1 win, and then he delivered his party piece for the Germany national team. It was the official opening of the Olympiastadion and he netted all four goals in a 4-1 win over the Soviet Union and earning him headlines such as 'Clueless against Müller', 'Nobody can do it like Müller', or 'Gerd Müller was worth millions'.
Historic 40-goal mark
In the 6-3 win over Frankfurt on 3 June 1972, he burst through the 40-goal mark, and his opponent that day Gert Trinklein could only remark: "Müller does things that nobody else on the planet can do. The only way to stop him is by handcuffing him." The coach of the visitors Erich Ribbeck went even further, saying: "I would trade two Beckenbauer's for one Müller." Beckenbauer did not take it the wrong way, though, acknowledging that he and his club "are happy to have Müller – there's no striker more dangerous than him in the world."
Müller's spectacular season of goals ended on Matchday 32, at least in a Bayern shirt. He had already done more than enough, which is why he let his team-mates complete the 5-1 win over FC Schalke 04 several weeks later which clinched the title. Europe's best goalscorers did not need any more goals having broken through the 40 barrier like nobody before him in one of Europe's top leagues.
Then came the European Championship in Belgium with Müller scoring four of Germany's five goals on their way to the title, crowning an unforgettable year for the nation's bomber: that summer, he became the first German to score more than 50 goals for his country.
Müller's 40 goals in the 1971/72 season:
|2||6||1. FC Kaiserslautern|
|3||7||DSC Arminia Bielefeld|
|4||10||SV Werder Bremen|
|5 & 6||11||Hannover 96|
|7 & 8||12||MSV Duisburg|
|9, 10 & 11||13||Hamburger SV|
|12 & 13||15||Eintracht Frankfurt|
|14, 15, 16 & 17||16||Borussia Dortmund|
|19, 20, 21, 22 & 23||21||RW Oberhausen|
|24 & 25||23||1. FC Kaiserslautern|
|26||24||DSC Arminia Bielefeld|
|27, 28 & 29||25||VfL Bochum|
|30 & 31||26||VfB Stuttgart|
|32, 33 & 34||27||SV Werder Bremen|
|35 & 36||30||Hamburger SV|
|37||31||1. FC Köln|
|38, 39 & 40||32||Eintracht Frankfurt|
From Udo Muras (author of the biography: "Gerd Müller - Der Bomber der Nation")