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Titles matter, not records: Messi

Lionel Messi broke German legend Gerd Mueller’s 40-year-old record for the most goals in a calendar year on Sunday, netting his 85th and 86th goals of 2012 in the 2-1 win over Real Betis. But the 25-year-old was happier to highlight the win more than the record as his team eye a domestic and European double.


Double delight: Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his second goal against Real Betis in a Spanish League match at the Benito Villamarin Stadium in Sevilla on Sunday. Barca won 2-1. Pics/AFP

“It’s nice to beat records but the win for the team is what is important and the points difference at the top,” said Messi as Barcelona maintained their six-point lead over Atletico Madrid and 11-point gap on Real Madrid. “My goals are to win titles with the team, the Spanish league, Spanish Cup or Champions League is more important than any personal records.”

It did not take long for Messi to equal Mueller’s record with his side’s first real attack on 16 minutes in Seville, making a diagonal run across the Betis defence before hitting a left-footed shot into the right corner. His history-making moment came nine minutes later when he struck from almost an identical position after good play from Adriano and Andres Iniesta. “My objective at the start of the season was to win another La Liga title,” added Messi, who is also in line to win a record fourth successive Ballon d’Or. For that, he faces competition from teammate Iniesta and Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo. “If Iniesta wins, it will be well-deserved for all that he has done. Again, it will also be a prize for the dressing room,” said Messi, who has also won the FIFA Club World Cup twice and is Barca’s leading scorer with 283 goals in all competitions.

Mueller hails ‘giant’ Messi
Germany great Gerd Mueller yesterday described Lionel Messi as a “giant” after the Argentine broke his calendar year goal-scoring record that had stood for 40 years.


Gerd Mueller

“My record of 85 goals in 60 matches, which stood since 1972, was beaten by the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, and I’m very happy for him,” said Mueller, now 67, according to a spokesman for his former club, Bayern Munich.

The former Germany striker added that he thought Messi was “an incredible player, a giant who is at the same time very nice and a polished professional.”

“I hope he’ll score one or two goals again in the matches that remain in 2012 and that his record will stand for the next 40 years,” added Mueller, who was nicknamed ‘Der Bomber’ (The Bomber) for his sheer aggression.

Mueller is by far the best goal-scorer in the history of the German league (Bundesliga) with 365 in 427 matches. He was at his peak between 1964 and 1979 but battled alcoholism since his retirement in 1981.

The German legend however joked that Messi had only one fault: “He does not play for Bayern Munich.” 

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