Former West Germany great Gerd Mueller has Alzheimer’s

MUNICH (AP) Former West Germany and Bayern Munich great Gerd Mueller has Alzheimer’s disease.

Bayern said on Tuesday that the 69-year-old Mueller has had the illness for ”a long time” and that he has been cared for professionally with the support of his family since the beginning of February this year. His wife Uschi asked for understanding, as there will no official appointments or visits for his 70th birthday on Nov. 3.

Mueller, known as ”Der Bomber” for his scoring-prowess, scored 533 goals in 585 games for Bayern between 1964 and 1979, helping the side to four German titles, four German Cup wins and three European Cup victories in that time. His 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga league games remains a record, as does his feat of 40 goals in a single season from 1971-72.

Mueller was as important to Bayern’s ascent as former teammates Franz Beckenbauer and Uli Hoeness.

”What Bayern represents today with this palace on Saebener Street,” Beckenbauer said Tuesday referring to the club’s training facilities. ”Without Gerd Mueller the people would still be in that wooden hut from the time.”

Mueller also helped West Germany win the World Cup in 1974 and European Championship in 1972. Mueller’s 68 goals in 62 appearances for West Germany was a national record only surpassed by Miroslav Klose in 2014. Klose needed 129 appearances to match him.

”Gerd Mueller is one of the greats of world football,” Bayern chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge said. ”Without his goals, Bayern and German football would not be what they are today. Gerd was a striker the like of which we probably won’t see again. He remained modest and restrained despite all the success, something that particularly impressed me.”

Rummenigge added: ”He was a wonderful team player and a friend. He will always have his place in the Bayern family. After he ended his professional career, he brought his experience to bear as a youth coach and so shaped for example our world champions Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Mueller. We’re also grateful to him for that.”

Doctor Hans Foerstl said Mueller had been treated with great respect by Bayern, the fans and media ”despite unmistakable signs of his illness” and that it was very important ”because it is the wish of anyone with the commencement of Alzheimer’s to stay for as long as possible in his familiar environment.”