On the same lawn where nearly two years ago Diego Maradona had a wide cross-section of Indian media in thrall, Paul Breitner explained why for excellence in football, he always dials M. And the Bayern Munich legend, part of the 1974 World Cup winning team, wasn’t referring to Maradona or Mourinho.
“In all my time of watching and playing football, I have never seen a better player than Gerd Mueller,” said Breitner, who along with Pele, Vava and Zinedine Zidane, have scored in two World Cup final matches (in 1974 and 1982) here on Tuesday.
Still grizzly but without the coiffures that gave him the moniker Der Afro, Breitner, looking remarkably fit for someone who is 59, is here with the Bayern Munich All Stars team comprising World Cup winners Andreas Brehme, Paulo Sergio, Stefan Reuter among others, which will play against East Bengal’s yesteryear stars here on Wednesday, the proceeds going for the uplift of street children.
“You need to have somebody who decides games, wins championships and I have never seen anyone do that better than Mueller.” When the conversation moved to the present generation, Breitner, speaking in flawless English, refused to look beyond another M — Lionel Messi — while explaining why the little genius’s performance hasn’t matched potential for Argentina. “To win a World Cup, you need better players around you. Messi for me is 100 %. What he does for Barcelona week in, week out is there for everyone to see. And Messi, mind you, still has a future with the national team.”
Breitner did mention a third surname with M but said though German wonder kid Thomas Mueller was his find of the World Cup “having gone to South Africa as an unknown but emerging a star five weeks later”, he would, be 80% in comparison to Messi.
About the only M he didn’t consider a special one was Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho. Speaking in the context of whether Bayern lost the last Champions League final to Inter Milan because Mourinho coached the Italian giants, Breitner said: “No coach is special because for all the tactics that you teach, you are helpless and on the sidelines once 11 players take the field.”
Asked if he anyone now reminds him of his days as a player, Breitner, who started as a defender before converting to a midfielder, said: “I was probably the first half-defender, half-midfielder, an attacking defender. Maybe I started the trend now followed by Philipp Lahm, Dani Alves and Maicon.”