The name Gerd Muller will almost certainly come up in any discussion about great goalscorers.
During the course of his unique career, the West Germany striker set records that will probably live for ever. In a total of 62 international matches, Muller, born on 3 November 1945 in Nordlingen, struck an unbelievable 68 goals.
Der Bomber took part in two FIFA World Cups, his finest hour coming in the Final of the 1974 tournament when his winning goal a typical pounce in the six-yard box brought hosts West Germany victory over the Dutch favourites.
However, it is the finals in Mexico in 1970, when Muller played up front alongside Uwe Seeler, that he remembers best. "That tournament still means more to me even than 1974. We had an outstanding team then," he recalled in an interview with FIFAworldcup.com. Though West Germany 'only' achieved third place in Mexico, Muller hit the back of the net ten times and won the adidas Golden Shoe award as the tournament's top scorer.
Only the Frenchman Just Fontaine has scored more goals in a single FIFA World Cup tournament, finding the net a record 13 times in Sweden in 1958. Mueller, however, scored another four goals in the 1974 finals and his total of 14 remains a record for the number of goals scored by one player at FIFA World Cup finals.
Read about the 1970 FIFA World Cup
Feast of goals in Mexico
In 1970 the Bayern Munich forward's first goal came in his side's opening game against Morocco, when he netted the winner in a hard-fought 2-1 victory. He followed that with a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Bulgaria and then three more in a 3-1 defeat of Peru, his three strikes all coming in the first half.
As group winners, West Germany came up against England in the quarter-finals in a repeat of the 1966 Final. In scorching temperatures in Leon, however, the Mannschaft were at first unable to impose themselves. With over an hour played, England led 2-0, before Franz Beckenbauer pulled a goal back. With just a few minutes remaining, Seeler then equalised with a spectacular backwards header to force extra time. And who else but Muller then made it 3-2 to the Germans, ensuring victory and revenge.
The semi-final against Italy has long been hailed as the 'Game of the Century' by football writers the world over. Roberto Boninsegna scored an early goal to give the Azzurri the lead in the Azteca stadium but Karl-Heinz Schnellinger struck an equaliser in the dying moments, meaning that extra time was once again required.
Muller fired his team in front, but, handicapped by the blazing Mexico City heat and a shoulder injury to Beckenbauer, the Germans were now on the back foot. Tarcisio Burgnich and Luigi Riva both netted put Italy 3-2 in the lead, only for Muller to equalise with his tenth goal of the tournament. It was all in vain, however, as Gianni Rivera ensured a 4-3 win for Italy with the fifth goal of a breathtaking extra period. Although Muller failed to score in the third-place play-off against Uruguay, West Germany won the game 1-0.
Read about the adidas Golden Shoe
A unique nose for goals
Muller had made football history, even if it was not enough to win the tournament. With ten goals he was the leading goalscorer in Mexico and today, at 60, he describes those four weeks in 1970 as the best time of his life.
However, Muller was - and remains - a man of few words, preferring to let his record speak for him. Most of his goals were anything but spectacular. He would often just poke or prod the ball over the line, having arrived at the right place at the right time. He had an amazing instinct for goals and an uncanny goalmouth prescience. "I didn't do any special training. I had this nose for goals, so I was usually a fraction of a second faster than the defenders. My team-mates could always rely on me to score goals."
Muller remained in football after hanging up his boots and is currently co-coach of the amateur team at his former club Bayern Munich. "I could not imagine a better life. Football is my hobby and my job," says Mueller, who could yet be robbed of his record this summer.
Brazilian marksman Ronaldo top scorer at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan already has a total of 12 FIFA World Cup goals to his credit and has Muller's tally firmly in his sights. As far as Der Bomber is concerned, however, Ronaldo is "currently the best striker in the world" and would make a worthy successor.