Lionel Messi has been showered with praise after establishing a new world record by scoring 86 goals in a calendar year.
Regardless of what you might think of calendar year as opposed to season-by-season records – our blogger Early Doors certainly did not approve – you can’t help doffing your cap to the diminutive Argentine for his goal tally. At the age of just 25 he is already a legend of the game, and even Gerd Mueller – the man whose record he took – has paid homage to him.
Yet it seems that Messi’s latest entry in the footballing record books might have to be scrubbed out: the Zambian FA have claimed that one of their own legendary strikers put the Barca star’s tally in the shade way back in 1972.
Godfrey ‘Ucar’ Chitalu scored an astonishing 107 goals for Kitwe United that year, the same year that Mueller hit the previous mark of 85. Yet while Muller was feted for his brilliance, Chitalu was not recognised outside his homeland and it is the German’s record that has stood for the last 40 years.
After a glittering career on the pitch, Chitalu was awarded a FIFA special award, and went on to become Zambia coach until he was tragically killed in the 1993 plane crash that wiped out an entire generation of the national team’s finest footballers.
The Zambian FA are now trying to bring Chitalu the recognition he deserves for his achievement by trawling their archives for evidence of the 107-goal haul.
“We have this record, which has been recorded in Zambian football, but unfortunately it has not been recorded in world football,” a spokesman told the Soccer Laduma website.
“Even as the world has been looking at Lionel Messi’s record, breaking Gerd Mueller’s, the debate and discussion back here has been why Godfrey’s goals are not being recognised.
“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 whichever game or tournament they were scored in, we will then send that to CAF and FIFA so that we can show that, while Messi’s record is there, while Mueller’s record is there, the actual record holder in terms of goals per calendar year is actually an African, it’s actually Godfrey Chitalu.”
The Zambian FA have also reportedly contacted FIFA who said they had heard of Chitalu’s claim and are “checking on it internally”.