"Der Bomber" needs no introduction. In this edition of Euro Legends, we look at Muller's heroics during the 1972 Euro in Belgium...
Date of Birth: 3 November, 1945
Place of Birth: Nordlingen, Germany
Playing Position: Striker
Gerhard “Gerd” Muller remains to this day one of the most successful and prolific goal scorers of all time having amassed a huge tally of 655 goals in 709 professional appearances. Muller’s amazing goal scoring ability and poaching instincts led people to give him the nickname of “Bomber der Nation” meaning the Nation’s Bomber. In a career spanning from 1963 to 1981, Muller played majority of his games for Bavarian giants, Bayern Munich; scoring 398 goals in 453 outings.
Playing for the West German team during Euro 1972, Gerd Muller was leading the line for “Der Panzer.” With the likes of Franz Beckenbaur, Gunter Netzer, Paul Breitner and Uli Hoeness also featuring, the West Germans were favourites to win. Muller wasted no time in getting his name on the scoresheet as West Germany beat hosts Belgium 2-1 in the semifinal. There were no surprises as Muller grabbed a brace and put his team in the final.
"Der Bomber" scoring his second goal in the 1972 final vs USSR
The 1972 final to date remains as the only final won by a margin of three goals. The Soviet Union met West Germany in the Brussels final and the Germans were totally dominant. From the immaculate Franz Beckenbaur playing sweeper to Gunter Netzer in the midfield and the lethal Gerd Muller in attack, the Germans swept the Soviets aside. It was Muller who opened the scoring midway through the first half when Josef Heynckes’ volley was saved by the Soviet keeper, only for Muller to hammer home from close range. Herbert Wimmer added a second shortly after half time before Muller doubled his tally by bursting into the penalty box following a neat interchange of passes between his teammates. West Germany ran out 3-0 winners to lift their first European title.
In his book "Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football", David Winner writes, "Muller was short, squat, awkward-looking and not notably fast; he never fit the conventional idea of a great footballer, but he had lethal acceleration over short distances, a remarkable aerial game, and uncanny goal scoring instincts. His short legs gave him a strangely low center of gravity, so he could turn quickly and with perfect balance in spaces and at speeds that would cause other players to fall over. He also had a knack of scoring in unlikely situations."
Gerd Muller has won several personal and team accolades. While playing for Bayern Munich, he has won the Bundesliga and German Cup four times each, the Champions League thrice, Intercontinental and Cup Winners Cup once. His personal accolades can be matched by very few as he has won the Ballon d’Or in 1970 and was the German Player of the Year on two occasions. Der Bomber held the record for most number of goals in the World Cup competition until Brazil's Ronaldo broke it in 2006. Muller has been German top scorer on seven occasions, European Top Scorer twice and was the highest goal getter in four editions of the Champions League. He also finished as top scorer at the 1972 Euro and 1970 World Cup. Even to this day, his tally of 68 goals in 62 games for German National Team hasn’t been reached. Muller’s name also features in the FIFA 100 list.
Muller ended his career at the age of 28 and sunk into severe alcoholism. His friends from Bayern Munich notably Uli Hoeness helped him back onto his feet and offered him a contract at Bayern Munich where he was responsible for scouting striking and goalkeeping coach. He progressed onto the role of a youth team coach and finally first team assistant. He now is the head coach of Bayern Munich II and stated “It does not get any better than being at Bayern."