Godfrey Chitalu: Did Zambian Striker Score More Goals Than Lionel Messi?

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterDecember 11, 2012

Don't rewrite that record book just yet—unless the name Godfrey Chitalu is going in.

The world celebrated Lionel Messi over the weekend as the Argentine surpassed Germany's Gerd Müller with his 86th goal of 2012. Müller had previously held what most consider the world record for goals in a year with 85.

It turns out, though, that there might be another record holder. According to multiple African sources, former Zambian international Godfrey Chitalu once scored 107 goals in a single year. That would mean neither Messi nor Müller ever held the record.

So who is Godfrey Chitalu?

According to the Nigerian Daily Post, Chitalu "is regarded as the greatest Zambian player ever." Nicknamed Ucar, Chitalu reportedly is Zambia's all-time leading scorer.

But that's not all. Chitalu reportedly scored 107 goals in all competitions in 1972, the same year Müller set the former FIFA record with 85.

So why isn't Chitalu in the FIFA record books? SoccerLaduma explains:

(The Zambian FA) explained that they are currently trawling through their archives in order to get the late striker the credit that they feel he deserves.

They said, '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.'

What next, then? If the goals are verified, should Chitalu be recognized ahead of both Müller and Messi?

Or, on the other hand, would it be unfair to compare Chitalu's goals to Messi's. The level of competition between Zambian football in the 1970s and today's top-class European game is likely a big one.

Still, that shouldn't take away from Chitalu's accomplishment—if, of course, it can be verified. Chitalu died in 1993, in the plane crash that took the lives of the entire Zambian national team. He was the team's manager.

So, what do you think, readers? Let us know in the comments below.

UPDATE, Dec. 12, 8:50 a.m. ET: According to SoccerLaduma, the Zambian FA reports that all of Chitalu's goals are on record. Stay tuned. This could get interesting


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.