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Dream goals reward Muller's passion and perseverance

Matthias Müller (picture courtesy of Matthias Müller)
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  • Matthias Muller suffers from a genetic disorder that has reduced his vision
  • He plays for SC Aadorf and is a big Liverpool fan
  • He has not had any negative experiences on the pitch due to his condition

Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal tally for Real Madrid alone stands at 450, while in the UEFA Champions League he has scored 117 times to date. Only he can say whether or not he remembers his first goal as a professional, or whether it holds the same personal significance as Matthias Muller’s maiden strike did.

Muller suffers from a visual impairment called achromatopsia. It is a genetic disorder that limits his vision to ten per cent and has left him completely colour blind. Yet that has not stopped the 25-year-old playing football. He joined SC Aadorf at the age of 12 and rose up through the club’s youth sides before joining the men’s team. So, what has been his best experience on the pitch so far?

“That was without doubt my first goal, or my first two goals, since I’ve been in the men’s team,” Muller told FIFA.com. “It took a really long time for me to get used to the tempo, so when I scored for the first time everyone congratulated me - even the spectators, who we don’t usually have that much contact with.

"I was still being congratulated a week later. The whole club was so happy that I’d finally scored. That’s when it really dawned on me how much the club values me playing the sport."

Teambild-2-Mannschaft- SC Aadorf

Achromatopsia in brief

  • A very rare hereditary disorder affecting the retina
  • Sufferers are partially or completely colour blind
  • It reduces vision to between five and 15 per cent of normal eyesight
  • High sensitivity to glare: vision that is already impaired can be almost completely lost in bright sunlight
  • Colours are perceived in diverse shades of grey, on a spectrum between black and white

Things other footballers take for granted often present huge challenges to Muller. “When I’m playing, then speed is obviously a massive problem,” said the mechanical engineer, who wears red and orange sunglasses both on and off the pitch to protect his light-sensitive eyes. “And when there’s a high ball, from a goal kick or a cross for instance, it’s extremely difficult for me. I only see the ball very late when I have to look upwards and I have to wait for it to bounce next to me. I prefer receiving the ball from deep.

“The worst thing is when the sky is very light and there’s lots of glare. When it’s like that I see considerably less than I do, for example, during a night game under the floodlights. In those situations I just need to avoid looking directly at the floodlights, but when the sky is dark then it works well.”

Differentiating between the shirts of his team-mates and those of opposition players is also tricky at times, meaning he has to look at the shorts or socks to know who is who.

Playing football himself is not the only challenge Muller faces; his condition means it is also difficult to watch a match in a stadium.

“Distance is the biggest problem,” he said. “I have to watch the game through binoculars and when you do that you obviously only see a small section of what’s going on. If one team wears red and the other one white then I can distinguish the players well. I know who plays where for Liverpool and Switzerland, so I can have an idea of who the players are. It also helps that I’ve played football for a few years myself as it means I can more or less guess where a cross is going to land.”

Fortunately, Muller has never had any negative reactions when playing. His friends and club-mates have known him for a long time and are well aware of what he can do. “After games, and sometimes during them, I’m occasionally asked why I’m wearing sunglasses. The last time happened about two weeks ago. So I just explain it to them quickly.” Simple as that.

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