Lionel Messi broke Gerd Müller‘s 40-year-old record of 85 goals scored in a calendar year when he scored a whopping 91 goals in 2012.
He set the world of football ablaze that day, but it appears that the achievement Messi owns could be a mirage. Because Zambia’s Football Association also reported that the legendary striker Godfrey Chitalu scored 107 goals in 1972, the same year, Müller set his supposed record with Bayern Munich.
The claims made by the Zambian FA raised eyebrows throughout football circles, especially considering Zambia has never said anything about this supposed record over the last 40 years.
Jerry Muchimba, a Zambian football researcher, is the reason behind this,
Because according to him
“Countries with well organized Football Associations have official records of all matches played by their national team, and record holders for appearances and goals scored can be easily identified.”
” Unfortunately, this is not the case in Zambia. No official record of all national team matches has ever been made public, so people can only guess who the record holders are.”
Muchimba’s statement is trying to say that Zambian officials never before looked into the statistics achieved by many of their players.
Marca called Muchimba a “historian.” Considering the research Muchimba put into the work of Zambian football numbers—and he was the person who presented the stats to the Zambian Football Association.
The historian described his findings in a December 11, 2012 article, in which he discussed Chitalu’s historic 1972 year. This research was also briefly mentioned by Muchimba in an article from November 9, 2012, where he explained he got these records from reading newspaper accounts and match reports.
In his article, the historian also went into depth on the famous goal scorer, sharing how Chitalu scored in 17 consecutive matches, along with how he surpassed his previous record in Zambia of 81 goals, which he had kept in 1968. The Zambian FA believes that the work of Muchimba is genuine enough to submit a claim to FIFA for Chitalua to hold the goalscoring record.
FIFA also believes that this work is legitimate enough to warrant an internal review of the claims. So, Once FIFA finishes its review in this manner, either Chitalu or Messi will have the goals title “goalscoring king” to himself. And if Messi is declared the winner, then there will be no doubt about the legitimacy because of his stature and the way football stats are recorded today.
If Chitalu wins, many will dispute the record and blame it on the defenses he played against, along with the weak strength of the Zambian league, forgetting that even if the league Chitalu participated in may not have possessed the same talent level as La Liga, that the Zambian did not have the advantages Messi had. Chitalu never had modern technology to help his performance, an immaculate playing surface like the Camp Nou or teammates like Andres Iniesta and Xavi. They produce numerous scoring chances for Messi.
The Zambian goalscoring hero played nearly every game for his club in 1972 and was one of the greatest African footballers ever.
Chitalu remained in football after his retirement and was the manager of the golden generation of Zambian footballers who passed away in the 1993 Libreville plane crash.
This debate between Chitalu and Messi’s goalscoring exploits will not end until FIFA makes its final decision, which may anger many.