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‘Der Bomber’: German World Cup hero Gerd Muller dies aged 75

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Gerd Mueller scores the decisive third goal for Germany during the World Cup quarterfinal in 1970
Gerd Mueller scores the decisive third goal for Germany during the World Cup quarterfinal in 1970   -   Copyright  AP

Gerd Muller, who took Bayern Munich and the West Germany national team to the top of the footballing world in the 1970s, has died aged 75.

Nicknamed ‘Der Bomber’ for his scoring-prowess, the striker helped his country to win the 1974 World Cup along with three European club titles between 1974 and 1976.

"I am convinced that people will still be talking about him in a hundred years' time," said his close friend Franz Beckenbauer in November 2020.

"In my eyes, he is the most important player in the history of Bayern," he said, "It is thanks to his goals that the club has reached the international level where it still plays.”

For Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, one of his successors in the Ballon d'Or and current Bayern boss, "Gerd Müller was the best centre-forward of all time. "A striker like we will never see again in modern football," added Joachim Low, the 2014 world champion national coach.

Muller scored more than 700 goals in his career. He scored twice in the EURO 1972 final against the USSR (3-0) and two years later scored in the final of the 1974 World Cup, helping in the 2-1 triumph over Johan Cruyff's Dutch favourites.

The goal, which he called "the most important" of his entire career, was also his 68th and last in 62 caps.

His international goal record was broken by Miroslav Klose (71), but Muller remains the only striker in Germany's history (among those with more than 15 goals) to have scored more than once per game on average.

His record of 40 goals scored in the 1971-72 Bundesliga season was only beaten last season, when current Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski scored his 41st in the last minute of the last game.

Bayern announced in October 2015 that Müller has had Alzheimer’s disease for “a long time” and that he had been cared for professionally with the support of his family since the beginning of February that year.