Gerd Mueller’s wife and Freiburg coach Christian Streich pleaded with Robert Lewandowski not to erase Mueller’s 49-year-old scoring record from the Bundesliga books.
The Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski obliged for now, converting a penalty kick in a 2-2 draw at Freiburg on Saturday.
The lone goal took his season tally to 40 goals, the same amount the former Bayern Munich great Mueller had achieved in 1971/19obliges 72.
Mueller will be unaware of what happened because he is suffering from dementia and in a nursing home.
His wife, Uschi Mueller, said this week that he would not begrudge Lewandowski for breaking the record but later also made a small request that would have kept him in the books.
“Dear Robert Lewandowski, 40 goals are enough,” she said.
Streich struck a similar line on Friday in order to preserve the record of his “hero” Mueller and because Lewandowski has “enough titles.”
Lewandowski also had Mueller on his mind when he celebrated his goal by revealing a t-shirt with a picture of Mueller and the writing “4ever Gerd”.
He got a guard of honour from team-mates and staff to mark the milestone.
The Pole then shockingly missed a sitter with 12 minutes left.
But he has one more game to get sole possession of the record in next week’s season finale against Augsburg.
Then, he will secure a sixth Bundesliga top goalscorer crown, one less than Mueller’s seven.
Lewandowski said: “This is a big honour.
“For me but also for modern Bundesliga history in Germany.
“It was a legendary record that stood for a long time.
“It was unbelievable what Gerd Mueller achieved.
“I never thought I could share a record with him.”
Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: “I played with Gerd Mueller and know that he gives Robert this day with all of his heart.
“Both are strikers that stand out in football history.”
Lewandowski finally got to share the record he already came close to in the past campaign with 34 goals.
His first season with 30 goals came in 2015/2016 and famously included five within a span of nine minutes against Wolfsburg.
Mueller meanwhile had five seasons with 30 or more goals in his glittering career which saw him score 365.
No other Bundesliga player has scored 30 goals more than once in a season in the league’s 58-year history, with in fact only six other players reaching this mark.
Mueller’s overall record also appeared to be for eternity, but some are not so sure now.
This is because Lewandowski has moved within 89 goals with a tally of 276 for second place since a 2010 Bundesliga arrival at Borussia Dortmund.
“Should Lewandowski play for Bayern Munich for three more years without a major injury, Gerd Mueller’s record of 365 Bundesliga goals is also under threat,” former Bayern Munich great Paul Breitner said.
The 32-year-old – whose father was a junior European judo champion, mother a top-flight volleyball player in Poland, and wife a former fudokan-karate world champion – is rarely injured and super fit.
This should allow him a few more years.
Lewandowski was at times considered egotistic but that has changed in recent years, and becoming a real team player has made him even more lethal.
“The record belongs to the whole team. There is not just my name on the list but that of the whole team,” Lewandowski said.
Coach Hansi Flick also said that “this is also an achievement from the team which has to feed him.”
He shared the view of many that now believed the record could be reached, along with club board member for sport, Hasan Salihamidzic.
Salihamidzic had named Lewandowski “the best striker in the world” at the moment.
Lewandowski has won everything from World Footballer to all club trophies with Bayern Munich.
He last won the 2020 UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble by finishing top scorer in all three events.
Lewandowski once put four goals behind Real Madrid in a 2013 UEFA Champions League semi-final while still at Borussia Dortmund.
He is also the most successful goalscorer in Poland’s national team with 66 goals.