Gerd Muller is undoubtedly one of the greatest strikers in the history of football.
The forward currently sits eighth on a list of the game’s all-time top scorers with 634 goals across his seventeen-year career. And 1970 was no exception.
Muller became the first West German and first Bayern Munich player to win the Ballon d’Or.
England’s sensational centre-back Bobby Moore posed the biggest threat to his victory, the two men separated by just seven points in the vote and yet in reality there was only one winner.
The 1970 Ballon d’Or belonged to Gerd Muller alone. An Undisputable Champion.
Record Breaking Goalscorer
Even as a 19-year-old, Muller had developed into an instinctive, prolific and clinical goal-scoring machine. In his first full season with German club TSV 1861 Nördlingen, he found the net an incredible 47 times.
In fact, Muller went on to score at least 30 goals in twelve consecutive seasons from 1966 to 1978!
During his Ballon d’Or winning period he struck 42 times in just 38 games across all competitions in 1969/70. In the Bundesliga, he scored 38 goals in only 33 appearances with a ratio of 1.15 goals per game and predictably finished the season as the league’s top scorer.
At the time, Muller’s tally proved a Bundesliga record for most goals scored in a domestic German season before beating his own achievement two years later when netting 40 times during the 1971/72 season. It took almost fifty years for his record to be broken when Polish striker Robert Lewandowski hit 41 goals for Bayern Munich in 2020/21.
Muller ended the 1969/70 campaign without a Bundesliga title as Bayern finished second in the league and four points behind eventual Champions Borussia Monchengladbach. The German side failed to secure any honours that season.
But his epic impact on the world stage made a Ballon d’Or triumph near inevitable.
1970 World Cup
Gerd Muller’s individual display at the 1970 World Cup is amongst the greatest in the competition’s glorious legacy.
Even before the finals, the German had been electric and during their qualifying campaign, he netted six goals in only eight matches.
The tournament arrived and West Germany comfortably finished top of Group D, winning all three of their games as Muller scored six more times.
Into the knockout stages and Muller struck in the 108th minute of extra time as the Germans defeated England 3-2. Ballon d’Or runner-up Bobby Moore was magnificent for his country and equally as commanding across the entire competition.
Muller then scored twice in the semi-final against Italy but ultimately ended up on the losing side as the Italians won 4-3 after extra time.
He finished the tournament as its top scorer, claiming the Golden Boot with an incredible ten goals in just six games. It remains the third-highest goal tally during a single World Cup campaign behind Hungarian Sándor Kocsis, who hit 11 goals in 1958 and Just Fontaine, the Frenchman scoring 13 times only four years later.
Gerd Muller’s international performance across 1970 rightly lives long in the memory and makes him one of the most deserving Ballon d’Or winners in the award’s prestigious history.
1970 Ballon d’Or Top 20
|1||Gerd Müller||Bayern Munich, West Germany||West Germany||77|
|2||Bobby Moore||West Ham United, England||England||70|
|3||Gigi Riva||Cagliari, Italy||Italy||65|
|4||Franz Beckenbauer||Bayern Munich, West Germany||West Germany||32|
|5||Wolfgang Overath||1. FC Köln, West Germany||West Germany||29|
|6||Dragan Džajić||Red Star Belgrade, Yugoslavia||Yugoslavia||24|
|7||Johan Cruyff||Ajax, Netherlands||Netherlands||13|
|8||Gordon Banks||Stoke City, England||England||8|
|Sandro Mazzola||Internazionale, Italy||Italy|
|10||Rinus Israël||Feyenoord, Netherlands||Netherlands||7|
|Gianni Rivera||Milan, Italy||Italy|
|Uwe Seeler||Hamburger SV, West Germany||West Germany|
|Albert Shesternyov||CSKA Moscow, Soviet Union||Soviet Union|
|14||Angelo Domenghini||Cagliari, Italy||Italy||4|
|Ove Kindvall||Feyenoord, Sweden||Sweden|
|Francis Lee||Manchester City, England||England|
|Willem van Hanegem||Feyenoord, Netherlands||Netherlands|
|18||Alan Ball||Everton, England||England||3|
|Terry Cooper||Leeds United, England||England|
|Giacinto Facchetti||Internazionale, Italy||Italy|
|Geoff Hurst||West Ham United, England||England|
- Gerd Muller is Bayern Munich’s all-time top goalscorer by some margin having scored 523 times in just 580 games. Second place Robert Lewandowski trails the German by some distance with ‘only’ 344 strikes for the club.
- Bobby Moore was named West Ham United’s Player of the Year for 1970 – the fourth time he would win the accolade – following recognition in 1961, 1963 and 1968.
- Gigi Riva became a World Cup runner-up in 1970, scoring during their semi-final win against Muller’s West German side to reach the final, which they would lose to an unforgettable Brazilian team.