Question to Messi & Ronaldo - When was the last time two players scored more than 60 goals in a season?

For the first time in 84 years, two players have broken the 60-goal mark in European club competition. tells the tale of the last time this occurred
By Keir Radnedge

Lionel Messi rocketed further into the stratosphere of football history when he finished the league season beyond the 70-goal mark, a figure never previously managed by anyone in top-class European football.

Following closely behind, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo netted one goal at home to Mallorca on Sunday in the final game of the term to reach 60 in all competitions this campaign. That made it the first time two players have hit that remarkable target in the same season since 1927-28.

Until now British legends Dixie Dean and Jimmy McGrory had remained unique in having both managed at least 60 in the same season, albeit in different leagues. Dean scored 63 goals for title-winning Everton in England while McGrory rattled home his 62 for Celtic in Scotland.

England centre-forward Dean – he was christened William Ralph and hated the nickname ‘Dixie’ – scored 60 goals in the old First Division and three in the FA Cup. Remarkably he did so despite having suffered skull and jaw fractures in a motorcycle accident in the summer of 1926.

Hindsight suggests Dean benefited significantly from a change in the offside law in 1925. This meant an attacking player needed ‘only’ two players, rather than the previous three, between himself and goal when the ball was played forward.

L. Messi (Barcelona)
G. Muller (Bayern)
F. Deak (Szentlorinci)
G. Zsengeller (Ujpest)
D. Dean (Everton)
J. McGrory (Celtic)
C. Ronaldo (Madrid)
R. Resmja (Tirana)
J. McGrory (Celtic)
F. Roberts (Glentoran)
F. Deak (Ferencvarosi)

A goal glut followed across the Football League. Some 6,373 goals were scored in 1,848 games in 1925–26, an increase of 36 per cent on the 4,700 in 1,848 games in 1924–25.

Dean scored 383 goals in 433 games for Everton in a top-class career aggregate of 407, including 18 goals in 16 games for England, before retiring in 1940. He died in 1980 after suffering a heart attack while watching Everton play Liverpool. A statue of him greets visitors to Goodison Park, a reminder of the glories of yesteryear.

The offside change prompted not only Dean’s record achievement but a tactical rethink by Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman and his Scottish inside forward Charlie Buchan. They pulled the old attacking centre-half back out of midfield and created the ‘third-back game’ with which Arsenal commanded English football in the 1930s.

The so-called WM formation held sway until Brazil introduced 4-2-4 and 4-3-3 in winning the 1958 and 1962 World Cups.

North of the border McGrory also capitalised on the change in the offside law. In that very same 1927-28 season he totalled 62 goals for the Hoops, made up of 47 in the Scottish league, six in the SFA Cup and nine in the League Cup.

Despite being only 5ft 6in, McGrory was the Scottish league's top goalscorer three times between 1927 and 1936 and totalled 550 senior goals, which still stands as a British record.

Some 18 years passed before another European joined Dean and McGrory in the “60 Club”. The third member of this elite was a Hungarian, Ferenc Deak, who rifled 66 goals in 1945-46 for the minor Budapest club, Szentlorinci.

Later came Dutchman Henk Groot, who played for Ajax between 1959 and 1963. In 1960-61 Groot scored a then record 41 goals in the Dutch league – still then largely part-time – and added a further 24 goals in the domestic cup and in the summer Inter-Toto Cup (not included in the table above) which was organised to serve the football pools companies of central Europe.

Twelve more years and Gerd Muller ‘signed in’. No European player has run up more club goals in a season than the man labelled “my scorer of little goals” by West Germany manager Helmut Schon.

Muller netted 398 times in 453 games over 15 years for Bayern, 68 goals in 62 games for West Germany – including the winner in the 1974 World Cup final – and was top scorer seven times in the Bundesliga. His most prolific season was 1972-73 when he scored 36 in the league, seven in the German Cup, 12 in the league cup and 12 in international club competitions.

That added up to the European club record of 67 which, along with the individual marks of Dean and McGrory, Messi has successfully erased in 2011-12.

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Keir Radnedge has covered every World Cup since 1966, analysing the international game for newspapers, magazines, TV and radio around the world

Gabriel Hanot had thought it all through. When the football editor of L’Equipe, back in the early 1950s, dreamed up the European Champions Club Cup – on the model of the pre-war Mitropa Cup – he knew exactly how the venue for the final would be decided.

The first final would be played in Paris, at the old Parc des Princes, because the competition enjoyed a French genesis. After that, thought Hanot and his colleagues, the winners should enjoy the bonus not only of an automatic place in the competition the next season but also the right to host the final.

That worked for just two seasons. The Parc, indeed, hosted the first final in 1956 in which Reims lost 4-3 to Real Madrid. As per The Plan, Madrid accepted the charge of hosting the 1957 final.

But Madrid also won the second final, by 2-0 against Fiorentina in their own Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Fledgling European federation UEFA, which had taken over organisation of the competition, had to come up with a new format. Hence it was resolved that the venue for the final would be decided in advance and would, hopefully in most cases, prove a neutral choice.

Remarkably, considering that the European Cup was launched all of 57 years ago, only on three occasions has it been staged in the home stadium of one of the finalists. This season, of course, could be a fourth occasion because Bayern Munich are just 90 minutes away from going ‘home’ to a Champions League Final in their own Allianz Arena.

That shadow of expectation has been looming over Germany’s record champions for almost two seasons now. At the start of last year club boss Uli Hoeness, aware of the Allianz prospect, was pointing up the importance of finishing in the 2010-11 Champions League slots at the end of the Bundesliga season.

That is the reason Louis Van Gaal was sacked in spring of last year: Bayern were slipping out of the top three and Hoeness could not countenance the idea of being a mere spectator at ‘his’ Champions League Final.

That may still prove the case but at least Bayern have progressed within sight of that date with destiny.

The first team to enjoy the luxury of their own familiar dressing room, after Madrid in 1957, were Internazionale in 1965. They were home in the final against Benfica in a travesty of a match. Torrential rain had flooded San Siro. If it had been a domestic league or cup match it would have been postponed. Instead, the trappings of the occasions demanded that it went ahead.

Benfica were damaged far more severely than Inter. Eusebio, Mario Coluna and Co played expansive attacking football; Inter were the ultimate man-marking, sweeper-secured, counter-attacking outfit. The conditions worked against the Portuguese, in favour of the Italians.

Worse for Benfica, in the days before substitutes, goalkeeper Alberto Costa Pereira was injured in the first half and centre-back Germano had to go in goal. Inter’s Brazilian right winger Jair da Costa scored the only goal just before half-time and the 10 men of Benfica were duly drowned out.

Coincidentally, Italy was host nation the next – and last – time that one of the finalists were hosts. That was in 1984 when Roma, in their own Stadio Olimpico, were beneficiaries of the supposed advantage, against Liverpool.

The weight of fans’ expectation proved fatally destructive for Roma. Coach Nils Liedholm’s men were fortunate to be on terms at 1-1 at the end of extra time and the final went to penalties for the first time in its history.

Nerves, assisted by the shaky-leg antics of Liverpool keeper Bruce Grobbelaar, beat Roma as much as Liverpool’s cool heads in the shootout. Star midfielder Paulo Roberto Falcao refused to take a kick at all while Italian World Cup-winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani both shot over the bar.

The overall score then: Hosts 2, Visitors 1.

The score ratio is similar (5:3) when counting occasions on which one of the finalists has come from the host country, though not city.

‘Home nation’ wins were recorded by Manchester United (Wembley, 1968), Ajax (Rotterdam, 1972), Liverpool (Wembley, 1978), Juventus (Rome, 1996) and Borussia Dortmund (Munich, 1997) while ‘home nation’ losers were Reims back in 1956 (in Paris) followed by Barcelona (Seville, 1986) and Manchester United (Wembley, 2011).

Adding the two scores together computes at 7:4 on. Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes would surely take those odds . . . if, of course, his men can hold out against Real in Madrid.