Former Germany international Gerd Muller (R) with Messi in this combo pic
By Collins Udeme
Former Germany international Gerd Muller on Monday hailed Lionel Messi as "an incredible player" after the Barcelona star broke his record for the most goals in a calendar year.
Muller grabbed 85 goals for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972 and the mark stood for 40 years until Messi netted his 85th and 86th goals of an incredible 2012 in Barça's 2-1 win at Real Betis on Sunday.
Speaking to Sport1.de, Muller led the tributes on Monday for the 25-year old Argentine who equalled his record and broke it in a record 86 goals in 66 games.
“My record stood for 40 years - 85 goals in 60 games - and now the best player in the world has broken it, and I'm delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic.
“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 onto the record for the next 40 years.
“He's fantastic. He only has one defect and that is that he doesn't play for Bayern Munich,” Muller joked.
Muller, whose record as Germany's all-time top goal scorer is also under threat from Miroslav Klose, now hopes Messi will add to his tally before the end of the year.
The man of the moment Lionel Messi was typically modest and insisted he derived more pleasure from helping Barça preserve their six-point advantage at the top of the Primera Division standings than he did claiming another personal landmark.
“The record is great for what it means, but the most important thing is that the team won and that we maintained the distance with the teams behind us.
“When the year starts the objective is to win it all with the team, personal records are secondary. I'll try to score more goals to make it more difficult for the next player that tries to break it,” said Messi.