Remembering Der Bomber
Sun, 15/08/21, 14:30
13 special moments in Gerd Müller's career
“He’s the most important player in the history of FC Bayern” was how Franz Beckenbauer described his former teammate Gerd Müller. Der Bomber represented the club from 1964 to 1979, with his goals firing the Bavarians to countless titles. He is still regarded as perhaps the greatest centre-forward football has ever seen. Following his death at 75, fcbayern.com looks back at the special moments in his extraordinary career.
Move to Bayern
How would the history of FC Bayern have turned out had Walter Fembeck not been so quick off the mark? The FCB general manager reached the Müllers’ house in Nördlingen just one hour before local rivals 1860 Munich and convinced the 18-year-old Gerhard to sign for Bayern. His maiden campaign in red was the 1964/65 season.
“Short, fat Müller” was how coach Zlakto ‘Cik’ Cajkovski called him as he initially featured for the reserves. But one-to-one training with the Yugoslavian coach helped Müller improve. He quickly demonstrated his ability with the first team and helped Bayern to Bundesliga promotion in 1965 with eight goals in the play-offs.
Firing Bayern to titles
The first piece of silverware wasn’t far off as FCB lifted the DFB Cup in 1966. Müller’s goals were key, scoring seven times in eight games. It saw the club qualify for the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, which Bayern won in 1967 for their first international honour.
Top scorer and Germany’s Footballer of the Year
1967 was a special year for Müller generally. He won the coveted Torjägerkanone as the Bundesliga’s top scorer with 28 goals for the first time and was named Germany’s Footballer of the Year. The striker picked up his first Bundesliga title in 1969, once again playing a key role with 30 goals that earned him a second Torjägerkanone and Footballer of the Year gong.
1970: Ballon d’Or
Bayern failed to win the league in 1969/70, but Müller continued to impress with an incredible 38-goal haul and his third top-scorer crown. At the summer’s World Cup, he fired West Germany to third place with 10 more strikes. Those performances saw him become the first German to win the Ballon d’Or.
Record 40-goal season
The 1971/72 campaign saw Müller up the ante even more with an incredible 40 goals in the Bundesliga. That record held for almost 50 years until Robert Lewandowski got 41 in 2020/21. On top of that, he won his second Meisterschale.
1972 European Championship: First title with Germany
It meant Müller went into the summer’s Euros full of confidence for Germany. He bagged braces in both the semi-final against hosts Belgium and the final against the USSR as Germany won their first European Championship.
Hat-trick of European Cups
After Bayern had won their third straight Bundesliga title in 1974, with Müller as top scorer in each, the crowning achievement came in Europe. Müller scored a brace in the European Cup final replay against Atletico Madrid as FCB won 4-0 to lift continental club football’s most prized trophy for the first time on 15 May 1974. If that wasn’t enough, the Munich side retained the title in the following two seasons as the club enjoyed its most successful era to date.
1974: World champion
Only months later, Müller finally reached the summit of world football. Der Bomber scored ‘just’ three times in the home World Cup in 1974, but one of them was the winner in the 2-1 final victory over the Netherlands in Munich. His quick spin to fire the ball home became the trademark Müller goal.
Bayern entered a period of transition after that, but Müller kept on finding the back of the net with regularity and was the Bundesliga’s top scorer for the seventh time in 1977/78 with 24 goals. No player has won the Torjägerkanone more times, with Robert Lewandowski next in the standings on five. On 10 February 1979, Der Bomber made his final appearance for Bayern, ending his Bundesliga tally with a record 365 goals in 427 appearances.
Müller began his next adventure in the USA with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in April 1979, where he was again one of the most dangerous strikers in the league. Der Bomber fired the Florida side to the playoffs, where they reached the quarter-finals. The following year they made it to the final, where Müller faced his former Bayern roommate Franz Beckenbauer (see photo), whose New York Cosmos won 3-0 to leave Müller without a title in America.
After over two years in the NASL, Müller hung up his boots on 11 August 1981 at the age of 36. His list of honours is long and includes four Bundesliga and DFB Cup titles, the 1976 Intercontinental Cup, three straight European Cups (1974-76) and the 1967 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. With Germany he became a world (1974) and European (1972) champion, was twice named the country’s Footballer of the Year (1967 and 1969) and won the Ballon d’Or in 1970. In total, Müller finished as top scorer in 18 different competitions and set countless records.
Return to Munich as assistant
Müller remained in America for a few years and even opened a restaurant called ‘Gerd Mueller’s Ambry’. He also struggled with alcoholism. “I suffered, really suffered,” he said looking back on the time, which he overcame with the help of FC Bayern. His long-time friends Uli Hoeneß and Franz Beckenbauer urged him to go to rehab. After overcoming that, he returned to Bayern and was a coach for the reserves from January 1992. He held the position until 2014 when he stepped down for health reasons. However, the memory of his performances has not been forgotten among football and, in particular, Bayern fans. In 2008, the 10,000-capacity Stadion im Rieser Sportpark in his hometown of Nördlingen was renamed the Gerd-Müller-Stadion. In 2018, perhaps the greatest German striker of all time was induced into the German Football Hall of Fame’s Best XI.
Check out even more photos from Müller’s astonishing career: