Godfrey Chitalu’s Feats in 1972 Cast Doubt Over Lionel Messi’s Goal Record

Godfrey ChitaluLionel Messi has bathed in adulation since breaking Gerd Muller’s record for most goals in a calendar year, but the record might not have belonged to Muller in the first place.

Zambia’s Godfrey Chitalu reportedly scored 107 goals in 1972. FIFA never officially recognized his goal tally, but the Zambian Football Association is submitting evidence to world soccer’s governing body so that it can credit Chitalu with the record, according to NewsDay Zimbabwe.

“We have this record, which has been recorded in Zambian football, but unfortunately it has not been recorded in world football,” a Zambia FA spokesperson said.

“Even as the world has been looking at Lionel Messi’s record, breaking Gerd Muller’s, the debate and discussion back here has been why Godfrey’s goals are not being recognized. What we are doing is, we have commissioned an independent team locally to go back into the archives and record minute-by-minute each of those goals. The team that we have put together is going to calculate all of those goals, recording which ever game or tournament they were scored in.

“We will then send that to CAF [Confederation of African Football] and FIFA so that we can show that, while Messi’s record is there, while Muller’s record is there, the actual record holder in terms of goals per calendar year is actually an African. It’s actually Godfrey Chitalu.”

Chitalu, a  five-time Zambian Footballer of the Year Award winner, is considered his country’s greatest-ever player. He hit his 1972 goal haul while playing professional soccer for Zambian club Kabwe Warriors FC. The club competed in at least four competitions that year — the Zambian Premier League, the Zambian Cup, the Zambian Challenge Cup and the African Cup of Champions Clubs. He also played for Zambia’s national team that year.

Ironically, that was the same year Muller scored 85 goals for Bayern Munich and Germany.

It is unknown how many games Chitalu played that year, as The Zambian FA is currently in the verification process, but he was photographed (via Facebook/Godfrey Chitalu) holding a soccer ball which celebrates his achievement.

Godfrey 'UCAR' Chitalu

Chitalu died in 1993 when a plane carrying Zambia’s national team crashed near Libreville, Gabon. He was the manager of the national team, and the crash killed him, 18 players and six other officials. That squad was regarded as the best in the country’s history until recently when Zambia won the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations — a triumph it dedicated to that 1993 team.

Messi scored twice on Sunday, giving him a total 86 goals for club and country in 2012. The FC Barcelona superstar passed Muller’s 40-year-old mark, and he has three more games to add distance between himself and the German great.

There’s no way the Argentine will score 21 goals to catch Chitalu (will he?), so it is up to the Zambia FA and FIFA to decide which player truly holds the record for most goals scored in a calendar year.

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Thumbnail photo via Facebook/Petition to get Godfrey “Ucar” Chitalu recognised for his 107 goal year