sport

Muller hails Messi record

Gerd Muller hailed Lionel Messi as "an incredible player" after the Barcelona star broke his record for the most goals in a calendar year.

Muller grabbed 85 goals for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972 and the mark stood for 40 years until Sunday night when Messi netted his 85th and 86th goals of an incredible 2012 in Barca's 2-1 win at Real Betis.

Muller led the tributes, telling Sport1.de: "My record stood for 40 years - 85 goals in 60 games - and now the best player in the world has broken it, and I'm delighted for him.

"He is an incredible player, gigantic."

Muller, whose record as Germany's all-time top goalscorer is also under threat from Miroslav Klose, now hopes Messi will add to his tally before the end of the 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 onto the record for the next 40 years," he added.

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

Messi's Barca team-mates were also in awe of his achievement.

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets added of Messi: "He is the best in the world nd I'm very happy he's broken that record and I hope he gets more."

A host of other Barca players also took to Twitter to offer their congratulations to Messi, including Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Javier Mascherano, Thiago and Jose Pinto.

Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta believes the magnitude of Messi's achievements may not fully sink in until further down the line.

"I'm sure that we will really appreciate Leo's records over time. They happen so quickly that they seem to be just one more thing. It all seems very simple but it's very difficult to describe it," he told Canal Plus.