Gerd Muller today hailed Lionel Messi as "an incredible player" after the Barcelona star broke his record for the most goals in a calendar year.
Muller grabbed 85 goals for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972 and the mark stood for 40 years until last night when Messi netted his 85th and 86th goals of an incredible 2012 in Barça's 2-1 win at Real Betis.
Muller led the tributes today, telling Sport1.de: "My record stood for 40 years - 85 goals in 60 games - and now the best player in the world has broken it, and I'm delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic."
Muller, whose record as Germany's all-time top goalscorer is also under threat from Miroslav Klose, now hopes Messi will add to his tally before the end of the year.
"He's such a nice and modest professional and I hope he gets one or two more goals in 2012 and that he can then hold onto the record for the next 40 years," he added. "He's fantastic. He only has one defect and that is that he doesn't play for Bayern Munich!"
The man himself was typically modest and insisted he derived more pleasure from helping Barça preserve their six-point advantage at the top of the Primera Division standings than he did claiming another personal landmark.
"The record is great for what it means, but the most important thing is that the team won and that we maintained the distance with the teams behind us," Messi told the club's website. "When the year starts the objective is to win it all with the team, personal records are secondary."
But he added: "I'll try to score more goals to make it more difficult for the next player that tries to break it."