At the peak of his career - when he scored the winning goal in the 1974 World Cup final - Gerd Mueller basked in the same god-like status Lionel Messi now enjoys.
Berlin: Lionel Messi could break Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record this weekend for the most goals scored in a single year, but the lifestyles of 'Der Bomber' and the magical Argentine could not be more different.
Story first published on: Friday, 30 November 2012 11:08
Messi's Barcelona host Athletic Bilbao on Saturday in the Spanish League and with 82 goals so far in 2012, the 25-year-old is just three short of Mueller's record tally of 85 set in 1972 for Bayern Munich and West Germany.
At the peak of his career -- when he scored the winning goal in the 1974 World Cup final -- Mueller basked in the same god-like status Messi now enjoys.
But having battled alcoholism since his retirement in 1981, his public appearances are limited now to the occasional Munich match and a German television milkshake advert alongside current Bayern and Germany star Thomas Mueller.
"I ruined my life," 'Der Bomber' admits having blasted an incredible 68 goals in his 62 appearances for his country.
He bowed out on the international stage at just 28 years of age after hitting the winning goal in Munich as West Germany beat Holland 2-1 to win the 1974 World Cup.
Mueller finished with 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games.
While Messi has been instrumental in helping Barcelona enjoy a golden era in the club's rich history, the same was true for Mueller and Bayern in the 1970s.
In 1965, Muller, Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer inspired the club to promotion to the Bundesliga.
Munich became Bundesliga champions for the first time in 1969, before claiming a hat-trick of domestic titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974.
The dream team then won the European Cup three times in succession from 1974 to 1976.
"Everything that FC Bayern has become is due to Gerd Mueller and his goals," said Beckenbauer, who captained Germany to the 1974 World Cup win and coached the 1990-title winning team.
Mueller was the club's top scorer every season from 1964-65 to 1977-78, and the Bundesliga's leading marksman seven times.
His collection of personal awards is just as impressive as the titles Bayern won.
Aged 21, he was first voted German Player of the Year in 1967, then in 1970, he became the first German to be crowned European Footballer of the Year after winning the top scorer award at the Mexico 1970 World Cup.
He appeared three times in FIFA Select XIs (1971, 1972, 1973) as further proof of his exceptional status.
When his playing career ended after a three-year spell in the North American League, Mueller admits he descended into deep crisis and began drinking heavily.
Bayern's current president Uli Hoeness helped get him back on his feet by offering him a contract in 1992; initially to look after sponsors, scout for talent and coach strikers and goalkeepers.
He later became a youth coach and first team assistant, earning his coaching badge and coached Bayern's amateur team in the 1990s.
He still helps to this day and has been known to be a favourite table football opponent for Germany's Bayern star Bastian Schweinsteiger.