Germany forward Thomas Muller admits he has been “shaken to the core” by the news his Bayern Munich idol and namesake Gerd Muller is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Gerd Muller – dubbed ‘The Bomber of the Nation’ – was the most feared striker in world football in the 1970s, scoring a phenomenal 68 goals in 62 games for West Germany as they won the 1972 European Championships and the 1974 World Cup.
On Tuesday, Bayern put out a statement that Muller, who will be 70 in November, has been receiving treatment for the condition since February in a Bavarian nursing home.
Thomas Muller, 26, will line up for reigning world champions Germany against Ireland in Dublin in Thursday’s Euro 2016 qualifier, but admits news of his idol’s poor health is on his mind.
“Gerd Mueller’s illness has shaken me to the core. He is a big role-model for me and is someone I always perceived as a great man,” Muller, who has scored 30 goals in 65 games for Germany, told German daily Bild.
“No one will ever get near his goal ratio for Germany.
“Yet he is totally modest and he has never imagined himself to be something special.”
Gerd Muller scored 533 goals during his time with Bayern Munich
The younger Muller has scored eight goals in eight Bundesliga games so far this season to help keep Bayern top of the German league table and he said working with his idol as a youngster helped make him the player he is now.
“When I was a young player and arrived in the reserves, it allowed me to get to know him.
“We always got on great, right from the start.
“He gave me tips from the word go, like how I should behave as an attacking player in the penalty area and I’m still grateful for them today.”
Muller played 15 seasons with Bayern, where he won three European Cups between 1974-1976 and scored an astonishing 533 goals.
Club president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said without Muller’s goals “Bayern Munich and Germany would not be where they are now”.
After retiring in the 1980s, Mueller worked as a coach for Bayern’s reserve team, but ran into both financial difficulties and had problems with alcohol.
Alzheimer’s is a chronic and incurable neurodegenerative disease which begins with memory loss and language problems and whose sufferers have an average life expectancy of between three and nine years.