Your favourite World Cup moments: 'Der Bomber' bows out with 1974 victory

Your favourite World Cup moments: 'Der Bomber' bows out with 1974 victory

Gerd Muller guaranteed goals, perhaps more so than any other player in the history of football, and it was he who delivered West Germany's second World Cup in 1974.

West Germany, as hosts, started the tournament as favourites, but all was not well. Following the terrorist attack on the Munich Olympics in 1972, the German camp at Malente was on lockdown, guarded by helicopters and snipers. 

On the pitch, the German public were not impressed early on despite wins against Chile and Australia, and the team's coach Helmut Schon, born in Dresden, nearly had a nervous breakdown after his side lost embarrassingly to East Germany.


By Christian Nier | Goal Germany
40 years after his early retirement from the national team, Gerd Muller says: "I would not make the same decision today. I would like to have played at Euro 1976." 

For almost every German, he is the epitome of the perfect striker. With his winning goal against the Netherlands, he sent the country into raptures. Germany fans nowadays can only dream of having a striker like him.

Franz Beckenbauer sums up Germany's thoughts on 'Der Bomber': "Without him, neither Bayern or the national team would have ever won the titles that they did. To him we owe everything."

Watch Muller's moment on One Stadium

Four changes were then made as Franz Beckenbauer spearheaded an overhaul of the team, with the "Bayern Munich spirit", as Paul Breitner put it, taking hold. Muller scored in a 2-0 win against Yugoslavia, and a 4-2 victory against Sweden convinced supporters that the team were hungry again.

Muller scored the only goal in a tight game against Poland, setting up a final clash with a formidable Netherlands side. The Dutch, led by Johann Cruyff, had breezed to the final at the peak of totaalvoetbal and were a scary proposition, even for the Germans.

The Dutch had been in blistering form, had destroyed Brazil and Argentina, and arrived in Munich in confident mood.

"They had the feeling they were invincible, you could see it in their eyes. Their attitude to us was 'How many goals do you want to lose by today, boys?'," said Germany star Bernd Holzenbein. 

From the first whistle the Dutch knocked the ball around casually before finding Cruyff. He breezed past Berti Vogts and was felled in the box by Uli Hoeness. Johan Neeskens rattled his side ahead after just 55 seconds.

The Dutch toyed with the Germans, pulling them this way and that, but they could not find the second goal. Holzenbein won a penalty for West Germany and Breitner, showing that Bayern mentality, rifled home. 

The winner came before half-time, and it was classic Muller. Rainher Bonhof had got into the penalty area and pulled it back from the right. Muller's touch, by accident or design, took the ball behind him, but with three defenders closing in he quickly swivelled and struck a low shot into the far corner, with keeper Jan Jongbloed stranded.

Come the full-time whistle, Muller sank to his knees having scored the winning goal for his country in a World Cup final played less than 100 miles from his birthplace. West Germany had become the first country to hold the European Championship and the World Cup at the same time, and Muller's goals had been key.

Muller scored 68 goals in 62 appearances for his country. The winner in Munich was his 14th in World Cup matches. And his last.

At the post-final banquet at the Hilton hotel, a row broke out after the DFB insisted that the players' wives were not allowed to attend. Muller, reportedly disgusted by the furore, retired from international duty.

He will be remembered as one of the very best goalscorers in the history of football, and the 1974 World Cup final, on the pitch at least, was his finest hour.

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