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The African Striker Who Scored More Goals In A Calendar Year Than Messi

In 2012, superstar Lionel Messi smashed Gerd Muller's 85-goal haul to make history in becoming the player to score the most goals in a calendar year. There was an African striker, however, whose goal tally over the course of a single year is said to have put the Argentine's achievement to shame.

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Seven years ago, FC Barcelona's No. 10 posted numbers that many would've thought to be impossible before it was done. Playing predominantly off the right, but in a role that allowed him to roam freely, for both club and country, Messi struck 91 goals to break the record for the most goals scored in a single year.

The Catalan club talisman scored five more times than German legend Muller, who amassed 85 strikes in 1972, with 72 of those goals being scored for Bayern Munich and 13 for West Germany. Messi surpassed him with a brace against Real Betis in early December 2012, before going on to add another five strikes before the dawn of the next year.

Since then, nobody has come close to equalling or breaking the Argentine's incredible numbers, although certain records claim the record was never his, or Muller's, to begin with.

In the same year the German struck on 85 occasions, a Zambian striker by the name of Godfrey Chitalu was believed to have not only scored more than him, but destroy his tally, as pointed out by The Football Pink.

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Representing Kabwe Warriors at club level and Zambia on the international stage, Chitalu was said to have struck 107 goals in just 59 matches in 1972, while there are also reports that he scored a further nine times in a two-legged cup tie that year, although those goals were never confirmed by those who arranged the tournament.

Incredibly, Chitalu did not only beat Muller's record that year, but also his own. In 1971, the Zambian goal machine is believed to have found the back of the net 89 times across all platforms for his club and his national team.  

Chitalu, who tragically lost his life in the tragic Zambia national team plane crash in 1993 when he was manager of the side, never had his records recognised by FIFA, perhaps due to certain but unclear discrepancies. Some of his goals came into question as they might not have been scored in official matches, with nobody yet to make this verification.

In 2012, a Zambian FA spokesperson said that "we have this record, which has been recorded in Zambian football, but unfortunately it has not been recorded in world football. 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 recognised."

After insisting that the Zambian FA will look deep into their records to confirm their claims, the spokesperson at the time said: "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."  

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While there has since been no clarification as to whether or not all his goals in 1972 were legitimate and should therefore be considered a record, Chitalu's 79-goal tally in 108 matches for Zambia is recognised by football's world governing body. Behind Iran's Ali Daei, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, Hungary's Ferenc Puskas and Japan's Kunishige Kamamoto, Chitalu is the fifth highest scorer in the history of international football.

Should Chitalu be considered the greatest African striker of all time? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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