Football

Mueller hails 'incredible' record-breaking Lionel Messi

Messi scored two against Betis to break the record (©GettyImages)
Messi scored two against Betis to break the record (©GettyImages).

Former-West Germany striker Gerd Mueller has paid tribute Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi after the Argentinian's two-goal brace took him past Mueller's historic 85-goal mark.

Messi hit two goals against Real Betis to break Mueller's 40-year record, as Barcelona saw off Pepe Mel's side to maintain their lead atop the La Liga table.

Mueller scored 85 times for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972 - a mark which stood until Messi hit his 85th and 86th for Barcelona and Argentina on Sunday night.

"My record stood for 40 years - 85 goals in 60 games," Mueller told German newspaper Sport1.de. "Now the best player in the world has broken it.

"I'm delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic."

A 27-year-old Mueller hit 72 goals for Bayern Munich and 13 goals for West Germany during 1972, earning a reputation as one of the game's most lethal finishers.

His tally has stood as the benchmark for 40 years - and the scale of Mueller's achievements meant few expected it to be bettered for some time.

But three-time World Player of the Year Messi has now bettered the total, and with three games still remaining in the calendar year.

"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 on to the record for the next 40 years," continued Mueller.

"He's fantastic. He only has one defect and that is that he doesn't play for Bayern Munich!"

Messi's Barcelona teammates also hailed the remarkable achievements of their star player. World Cup winner Gerard Pique described Messi as "supernatural" to Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo.

Earlier this year, the Argentine became Barca's record scorer, overtaking Cesar Rodriguez Alvarez's 232 goal mark as the club's record scorer.

Naturally, after the record-breaking fixture against Betis, Messi was his usual modest self.

"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," Messi told the club's official website.

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