The best way to understand the importance of Gerd Muller to German football is to look at his stats.
Or rather, the number of goals he scored.
Well, here are some of them!
365 in 427 Bundesliga games
66 in 74 European games
68 in 62 international games
14 in the World Cup
The former Bayern Munich and West Germany striker, who died this weekend at the age of 75, never had pretensions about being anything other than a goalscorer.
He scored with every part of his body – the right or left leg, with his head, his lower backside, with his stomach, on the floor, in the air, everywhere and anytime.
Short and stocky, he was famously dismissed as “little fat Muller” and “a weightlifter” by his first Bayern coach Zlatko Cajkovski.
However, he proved extraordinarily talented in the box.
His output – 33 goals in 1964-65 helped Bayern win promotion to the Bundesliga.
Thanks to Muller’s goal-scoring exploits, Bayern won the DFB Pokal, the Cup Winners’ Cup, their first four Bundesliga titles and three successive European Cups.
But his greatest strike was in the final of the 1974 World Cup against Cruyff’s flying Dutchmen.
An awkward first touch that effectively turned into a dummy, followed by a low shot into the net, was a typical Muller strike that helped Germany win their second World Cup.
His 1971-21 record of 40 goals in a Bundesliga season was broken by Lewandowski only this year.
The biggest tribute to Muller is that his name has become part of the vocabulary.
In German, ‘to mullern’ means ‘to score’.