The moment. The footballer Gerd Müller lived for him. Gerd Müller, the top scorer of the century, died on Sunday at the age of 75. He had so many great moments.
It is June 17, 1970, it is the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City, it is the 95th minute. For 94 minutes, Germany and Italy dueled each other in the grueling heat in front of 100,000 spectators in the World Cup semi-finals, until then it is already a game that will be remembered, but the real drama with extra time still follows. It will later be called the game of the century.
In this 95th minute, the Italian defender Fabrizio Poletti plays a somewhat unsuccessful return in his own penalty area, Italy’s goalkeeper Enrico Albertosi already holds his arms open, but somehow, you don’t know how, Gerd Müller first touches the ball with his toe, and somehow, you don’t know how, the ball is in the goal to make it 2-1 for Germany. Ernst Huberty almost sighs into the microphone: “Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve ever seen a typical Müller gate, it’s now.”
He met how and with what he wanted
A typical Müller goal. That was a goal that, with the help of any part of the body that was available, brought the ball behind the line. Müller hit with the head, with the thigh, with the knee, with the back, with the bottom. He scored how and with what he wanted, the penalty area was his kingdom, there has probably never been a penalty area striker like him, never again someone who stands for getting the ball into the goal, no matter how. At some point someone came up with the word garbage for it. It rummaged all the time.
Müller scored and scored, in the Bundesliga he scored 365 goals, all for Bayern Munich, a Müller goal for every day of the year. He was the league’s top scorer seven times, the first time in 1966/1967, the last time in 1977/1978. In the 1972 calendar year, Müller scored 85 competitive goals – the record remained in Europe for 40 years. Then Lionel Messi surpassed him.
Müller scored and scored, 68 times for the national team, his last goal was also the most important – the 2-1 that made the DFB team the 1974 world champions over the Netherlands. “Müller, 2: 1”, cheered ARD man Rudi Michel, Müller was 28, the best striker age actually, but he didn’t like anymore. On the evening of the triumph, he announced his resignation from the national team. Gerd Müller could be stubborn.
Then it goes boom
68 goals for Germany, Miroslav Klose managed that at some point, but he needed more than 100 international matches and not 62 like Müller.
Müller, the World Cup hero, his winning goal has flickered across the screens a thousand times, it runs around the clock in the German Football Museum, every football fan can describe the scene: Rainer Bonhof’s cross, Müller initially bounces the ball off his foot in the sixteen-meter space, but it may have to be like that, otherwise it wouldn’t be a real Müller goal. The striker reacts the fastest, the second attempt sits. Müller takes off, pulls his right hand up, pure happiness. The moment that was his greatest.
He was called the “bomber of the nation”, “little fat miller”, but neither did him justice. Müller’s strengths were his agility, his quick reactions, his quick comprehension, the immediate grasp of the game situation. The ball just had to be near him and it was as good as it was in the goal. Or as he sang himself: Then it goes boom. He was the master of the unspectacular. Overhead kneeling? He didn’t need that. His legs were probably too short for that. He took the butt. The main thing is inside. His supposedly small art, in reality it was great art.
Someone who always scores, who piles success on success, German championships, European Cup victories, trophy after trophy brings Bayern, someone like that could bask in the shine and everyone would applaud him. But Gerd Müller wasn’t like that. He was never like that.
It was supposed to be in 1860
Even as a child, as the son of Johann Heinrich Müller in the Swabian town of Nördlingen, Müller was so shy that he didn’t dare to join the local football club at first. It is the famous simple circumstances in which Müller grew up. Everyone on the street plays football, for a little boy it is the most normal thing in the world to join the football club next door, and Gerd Müller, who will later become Europe’s footballer of the year, only has to be twelve years old when he dares to join one Association to join. It is TSV 1861 Nördlingen, and if you can believe the club chronicles, Müller is said to have scored 180 goals this season in the A-youth.
The Munich clubs take notice of him, and it is similar to his specialty Franz Beckenbauer, who was also born in 1945. Like Beckenbauer, Müller is supposed to go to Munich in 1860, the then much more prominent club in the city. But the managing director of FC Bayern, Walter Fembeck, is an hour earlier than the colleague von den Löwen in the miller’s living room and recruits the 18-year-old. Since then, Bayern Munich has been grumbling.
Transfer fee at that time: 4,400 D-Marks. And a guaranteed part-time job in a furniture store. In the »Süddeutsche Zeitung« there is the nice story that Müller, as a furniture maker, dragged the wardrobes for an “SZ” editor up to the fourth floor. That was the time.
Müller has been loyal to FC Bayern for 15 years, the club moves up from the regional league to the top of Europe, Müller and FC Bayern win everything there is to be won, then suddenly it’s over. Müller fell out with the coach Pal Csernai, a delicate person who doesn’t understand you like Müller. The coach replaces him prematurely against Eintracht Frankfurt, he does not agree with the performance of his striker. Müller is mortally offended. It is the sudden end of a long love.
He loses himself after the career
Müller moves to the USA, that’s what you do as a professional in the late seventies. Franz Beckenbauer already plays there. But he of course at the glamor club Cosmos New York, anything else is out of the question for the Kaiser. Müller, on the other hand, moves to Fort Lauderdale, where he also scores Müller goals, of course, but he is far from everything. From glamor, but also from its Munich. Gerd Müller’s life begins to turn. The time begins when he has “somehow lost himself”, as he later says himself.
Müller begins to drink, in the steak house that he runs in the USA he has to give up the tourist attraction for the German guests, he doesn’t like it. After five years the family returns to Germany, but Müller can no longer find his way around. Only when he lets himself be induced to go into rehab does things get better again. The old companions take care of him. Beckenbauer and Uli Hoeneß, his teammates from earlier days and who have long been successful at FC Bayern, bring him to the club as assistant coach. Müller has his penalty area back.
He will stay at Säbener Strasse for another twelve years, and FC Bayern has now had a new miller. Thomas and Gerd appear together in the TV commercial for Müller Milch. It grumbles one more time.
In 2014 he fell ill. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was announced by the Bavarians a year later. Müller disappears into oblivion. Nobody will forget him.