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'Not Pele or Maradona, I’m the best'

sports Updated: Jan 20, 2009 13:03 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

Unbecoming of a man apparently uncomfortable in public glare, Gerd Mueller showed a sense of humour.

It often had Martin Haegele, Bayern Munich’s director of international affairs who doubled as interpreter, and everyone else who knew German laughing before the rest of the media.

Sample this: The Bayern and West Germany legend said it would be stupid for Kaka to not accept the kind of money Manchester City want to spend on him. “Even half that amount would do,” he said, the bearded face breaking into a smile which on translation rippled through the audience. “My first contract at Bayern was worth 160 deutsche mark (approximately 80 euros) per month.”

The obvious question of who Mueller thought was better between Pele and Maradona didn’t take long in coming. And with the kind of alacrity that made him famous in front of goal and had Franz Beckenbauer once commenting that without Mueller we (Bayern Munich) would still be staying in a hut, Der Bomber replied: “Herr Mueller.”

And when he was asked why he quit international football at 28, Mueller said: “I came home after winning the World Cup and my daughter looked up and said ‘my uncle has come.’”

Mueller skirted commenting on Indian football following two practice games with East Bengal (Bayern Munich II won Monday’s game 5-1) with the dexterity that made him go past rival defenders and score 68 international goals in 62 matches choosing instead to highlight the hospitality the Bayern Under-23 team is getting.

“I have got so many gifts that had it been somewhere on the continent, I would have hired a Tata car to take them home. Now, I have to look for extra suitcases.”

On his three most memorable personal moments, the Bayern II assistant-coach said: “Winning the World Cup will be followed by a goal against England just after we lost the 1966 World Cup final and last but not the least, being voted the best in the Bundesliga ever. Considering that legends like Franz Beckenbauer were competitors, that’s a huge honour.”