German football legend Gerd Muller has passed away at the age of 75, his former clubannounced on Sunday.
The former striker, who held the nickname ‘Der Bomber’ during his career, was regarded as one of the greatest ever forwards to play the game and helped his country to the 1974World Cup and 1972 Euros title.
Muller was also Bayern Munich’s all-time record goalscorer with 552 goals in 607 appearances, while his career total stood at 711 goals in 780 games for club and country.
The former footballer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2015 when he was a coach of Bayern’s second team, while he also suffered from alcoholism when his playing days ended in 1982. Muller leaves behind his wife Uschi of more than 50 years and his daughter Nicole.
In an emotional Twitter post, Bayern Munich said: ‘Today the world of FC Bayern stands still. The all-time record German champions and its entire fan base mourn Gerd Muller, who died early on Sunday morning at the age of 75.’
German football legend Gerd Muller passed away at the age of 75 on Sunday morning
Bayern Munich and Germany legend Muller was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015
Born in Bavaria in November 1945, Muller began his career at his local side 1861 Nordlingen where he scored a remarkable 51 goals in 31 games between 1962 and 1964.
He then joined Bayern Munich for £2,300 and was part of one the German club’s greatest ever sides alongside fellow international legend Franz Beckenbauer.
Muller helped fire Bayern to promotion to the German top-flight in his first season with 33 goals in the second tier – and top-flight success would follow.
The striker would guide his side to four Bundesliga trophies and three European titles. His best season was the 1972-73 season when he netted an astonishing 66 times in all competitions.
He scored 85 goals in the 1972 calendar year. For Bayern, his tally of 552 is nearly double any other player in their history.
1974 World Cup winner Muller ended his career as Germany’s record goalscorer with 68
Muller also reached the top of the game at international level and ended his career as Germany’s all-time record goalscorer with 68 goals. By the time of his passing, Miroslav Klose overtook his Germany goal tally with 71 strikes.
Speaking about his passing, Bayern president Herbert Hainer added: ‘Today is a sad, black day for FC Bayern and all of its fans. Gerd Muller was the greatest striker there has ever been – and a fine person, a personality in world football.
‘We are united in deep sorrow with his wife Uschi and his family. Without Gerd Müller, FC Bayern would not be the club we all love today. His name and the memory of him will live on forever.’
His former team-mate and close friend Beckenbauer said: ‘Everything that Bayern has become is due to Gerd Mueller and his goals.’
For Bayern Munich, his tally of 552 is nearly double any other player in their history
Bayern’s chief executive Oliver Kahn said in a statement: ‘The news of Gerd Müller’s death affects us all deeply.
‘He is one of the greatest legends in the history of FC Bayern, his achievements are unmatched to this day and will forever be part of the great history of FC Bayern and all of German football.
‘As a player and as a person, Gerd Müller stands like no other for FC Bayern and its development into one of the largest clubs in the world. Gerd will be in our hearts forever.’
After leaving Bayern in 1979, Muller had a spell at former Miami side Fort Lauderdale Strikers, where he played alongside Manchester United legend George Best, before bringing his career to an end after three years in the United States.
Muller was a star for Fort Lauderdale along with the world’s best talents like George Best
By the time his career ended, the German had already started suffering from alcoholism which plunged him into financial trouble. He was helped by Bayern Munich legends Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Uli Hoeness and Beckenbauer in getting into rehabilitation and became a youth coach at the German giants in 1991.
Muller was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago and was cared for by his wife Uschi, who looked after him at a Bavarian nursing home.
‘He eats next to nothing, can hardly swallow, lies in bed for almost 24 hours, and has only a few waking moments,’ Muller’s wife told German outlet BILD last November.
Muller (left)’s wife Uschi (right), revealed the heartbreaking details of his dementia decline
‘It is so nice when he opens his eyes for a moment. He can sometimes signal yes and no with the blink of an eye.
‘He has always been a fighter, has always been brave, all his life. He is now too. Gerd sleeps towards its end. He has closed his eyes, is dozing, only rarely opens his mouth, and is given pureed food.
‘He is calm and peaceful, and I don’t think he has to suffer either. He’s slowly sleeping over.’
Several former professional players, including Sir Bobby Charlton, Gordon McQueen and Nobby Stiles, have been diagnosed with the illness, including five members of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad.
Muller (left) is one of several former footballers to be diagnosed with dementia after retiring
Many parts of football industry – – have implored the Government to analyse the link between football and long-term brain illness – with one potential reason for dementia being the heading of a football.
In conjunction with Alzheimer’s Society’s Sport United Against Dementia, Sportsmail launched a campaign for football to finally tackle its dementia scandal in November 2020.
Earlier this summer, English football announced restrictions on heading among adults for the first time, with professional players now limited to 10 ‘higher-force’ headers per training week.
Tributes to Muller have poured in from the football community, including from the German football association.
The DFB Twitter account posted: ‘The DFB is mourning the passing of one of the greatest German footballers of all time.
‘Rest in peace, Gerd Müller. Our thoughts are with his wife and family at this time.’
The football community has come together to pay tribute to one of the game’s greatest players
The Australian national football team posted on Twitter: ‘We’re saddened to hear of the passing of footballing legend, Gerd Muller. It was an honour to come up against him and the incredible West Germany squad of 1974. Rest In Peace.’
FC Barcelona tweeted: ‘From FC Barcelona, our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Gerd Müller, one of the most emblematic figures in the history of football.’
The twitter account for former Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, now at Manchester City, said: ‘A true Legend not only for @FCBayern and Germany but also for football.
‘The best striker in history. My condolences to his family and friends and Bayern fans. RIP Gerd Muller.’
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