2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

9 June - 9 July

2006 FIFA World Cup™

'Short, fat' Müller fires German glory days

When Gerhard "Gerd" Müller was signed by then second division strugglers Bayern Munich from his hometown TSV Nördlingen in 1964, coach Zlatko "Tschik" Cajkovski initially mocked his new striker's odd build, quipping: "What am I supposed to do with a weightlifter?"

The answer was simple: park him up front and let him score goals, goals and more goals – a tactic he adopted after forcing the striker to sweat it out for ten games on the bench.

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Short, powerful, stocky and barrel-chested, "Der Bomber" scored more than a goal a game in his illustrious career playing for Germany, with 68 in 62 international appearances. His club tally is only slightly less impressive with 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games. Though some might say the single-minded striker did little else besides score, his seemingly unassailable records still stand, as does the lingering memory of perhaps the most ruthlessly efficient and unlikely striker in the game's history.

Read FIFAworldcup.com's classic profile of Gerd Müller

Along with the unhurried artistry of Bayern team-mate Franz Beckenbauer , bustling Müller's bombast and goals - and more specifically his winner in the final against Holland in 1974 – led Germany to their first FIFA World Cup title since Fritz Walter walked on water in Bern in 1954.

He made his international debut in 1966, before going on to score an unheard-of 10 goals in a defence-terrorising performance at his first world finals in Mexico in 1970 . After winning the golden shoe as top scorer he became the first German to be crowned European Player of the Year

Despite inspiring Bayern Munich to a stratospheric level of glory that still exists today, his club coach continued to refer to his top marksman as "short, fat Müller". but despite the physical shortcomings, he was the club's top scorer every year from 1964 to 1978, and seven-time Bundesliga top-scorer. In 1971/1972 he netted 40 goals, a threshold no other player has reached since.

Watch the classic 1970 semi-final between Germany and Italy, where Müller scores two in a losing effort

In Germany, four years later, the squat poacher with massive thigh muscles went on another now trademark World Cup tear. Thought by many to be past his prime, his four goals led Germany all the way to the final, where – as heavy underdogs against Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels' ‘Clockwork Orange' Dutch– his 43rd minute close-range goal sealed a glorious comeback and a second global triumph for Germany. Predictably, Müller remembers this one as the "most important goal" of the hundreds he had scored.

Aside from its obvious implications of making Germany the first team to hold aloft the new FIFA World Cup trophy , the goal was historic in another way. It was Müller's fourteenth in just twelve FIFA World Cup matches, and to this day he remains the tournament's top scorer.

One day after inspiring Germany to global glory, Müller announced his retirement from the international game. He was just 28 years old. In1979, after accepting a lucrative contract to play in the then thriving NASL, an uneasy alliance with alcohol and a loss of fame began to take a heavy toll on the game's greatest goal getter.

But thankfully Müller turned it all around and is currently back with the club he loves as a youth team coach for Bayern. Earning nearly every accolade available in the game, the little "Bomber" is one of only a handful of true immortals – a classic all the way.

Stay tuned for next week's look back at some of football's classic moments, matches, faces and places