MUNICH — Gerd Mueller has paid tribute to Lionel Messi for breaking his record of most goals in a calendar year.
Report by BBC Sport
Mueller scored 85 times for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972, but Messi has eclipsed that with 86 goals for Barcelona and Argentina in 2012.
“My record stood for 40 years — 85 goals in 60 games. Now the best player in the world has broken it,” Mueller told German newspaper Sport1.de.
“I’m delighted for him. He is an incredible player.”
Former striker Mueller was 27 when he scored 72 for Bayern Munich and 13 for West Germany, setting the previous record.
Three-time World Player of the Year Messi (25) has two league matches and one King’s Cup tie to add to his total before the end of the year.
“He’s such a nice and modest professional and I hope he gets one or two more goals in 2012 and that he can then hold on to the record for the next 40 years,” added Mueller.
“He’s fantastic. He only has one defect and that is that he doesn’t play for Bayern Munich!”
Messi could be crowned World Player of the Year for a fourth time when the winner is announced in January, with Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo also in the running for the award.
Messi said: “I will try to score more goals to make it more difficult for the next player that tries to break it.”