The legendary footballer, considered one of the greatest players of all time, is one of the most prolific goalscorers in the history of football. Now 70 years old, he played in his youth for Germany’s most successful club of all time alongside another football great, Franz Beckenbauer.
It was revealed earlier today that the Germany and Bayern star was receiving treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, which is a type of neurological degenerative disorder that causes short-term memory loss. As the disease, a form of dementia, worsens, the afflicted lose their sense of orientation, direction, and eventually lose control of all bodily function.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and the causes are believed to be largely genetic. A prognosis for an Alzheimer’s patient is anywhere between 3 and 9 years, with most treatment a stop-gap measure rather than any reversal of the affliction.
Muller’s former teammate and current Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reacted to the news, telling the BBC he was “grateful” to a “fantastic teammate and a friend,” describing him as “one of the all-time greats in the history of football.”
Gerd Muller has held a series of records in his illustrious footballing career. He held the record for all-time World Cup goals scored, with a whopping 14; this was eventually broken three decades later by another football legend; Brazilian star Ronaldo Nazario de Lima. Muller also scored the most goals in a single calendar year in 1972, with 85 goals. This record would not be broken until 40 years later by 4-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
He played for West Germany prior to the country’s reunification, which happened in 1990 following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
“He will always have a place in the Bayern family,” Rummenigge said of Muller, also expressing his gratitude to Muller for the latter’s help in shaping the careers of German football stars Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and his unrelated namesake, Thomas Muller.
Alzheimer’s has afflicted several well-known figures; among the most famous was former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Iconic boxer Sugar Ray Robinson also succumbed to the disease in 1989, when he was only 67 years old.