Zambian FA challenge Lionel Messi's goalscoring record, claim Ucar Chitalu outscored him in 1972

Posted by Chris Wright

When Lionel Messi stuck in his second goal of the night and his 86th of 2012 against Real Betis on Saturday night to break Gerd Muller's long-standing 'goals in a calendar year' scoring record, the vast majority of the Earth's population assumed we would never in our lifetimes see the new total surpassed.

Turns out the dissenting minority were the good folks of the Zambian FA!

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) are claiming that the record doesn't belong to Messi, nor did it belong to Muller, but that Zambian striker Godfrey 'Ucar' Chitalu holds the record having scored 107 goals over the course of 1972.

A spokesperson for the FAZ told Zambian newspaper Soccer Laduma:

"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 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 [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."

Apparently Chitalu (a former five-time Zambian footballer of the year who sadly died in 1993), set his "goalvalanche" in motion in 1968 when he scored 81 goals for Kitwe United for the year, before besting his own record four years later by sticking away 107 in all competitions during the same 12 months that Muller set his 'record' in 1972 -- the only difference being that Chitalu's feat was never officially recognised by FIFA.

While we're on the subject; if it would please FIFA and the FAZ, Toe Poke have some very interesting stats from our Monday night five-a-side league that may just usurp the whole bloody lot of them.

(Image: Zambian Football)

ESPN Conversations