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Sport

Zambia’s Chitalu ‘scored more goals than Messi’

Text by Sophie PILGRIM

Latest update : 2012-12-17

Zambia plans to present evidence to FIFA that national footballing hero Godfrey Chitalu (left) scored more goals in one season than Argentina’s Lionel Messi. Chitalu’s 107 goals in 1972 have never been recognised by football’s governing body.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) is planning to take evidence to FIFA proving that celebrated striker Godfrey Chitalu scored more goals in 1972 than Argentina’s Lionel Messi scored this year, making him the world’s goal-scoring champion.

The 40-year-old claim has never been officially recognised by FIFA due to a lack of official records. “Countries with well-organised football associations have official records of all matches played by their national team and record holders [..] can be easily identified,” football researcher Jerry Muchimba explained in an article posted on football blog ZamFoot on November 9. “Unfortunately, this is not the case in Zambia.”

'THE GOAL KING'
Chitalu is crowned goal-scoring champion in 1972. Source: zambianfootball.co.zm.

But along with commentator Musonda Chibulu, Muchimba now says the pair have collected enough evidence to support the Chitalu claim after combing the national archives for newspaper reports from the Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail.

"Godfrey Chitalu scored 49 goals in the league matches and 58 in cup and international matches between January 23 and December 10, 1972,” Chibulu told AFP news agency on Tuesday. “So the number of goals goes to 107.”

That tally is far superior to that of FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who became the world’s official champion on Sunday when he scored his 86th goal this season – one better than Germany’s Gerd Mueller, who had held the record with 85 since 1972, the year Chibul allegedly set his record.

But even in Zambia, where Chitalu is considered an untouchable national hero, not everyone is convinced by the claim.

“There’s no question for most Zambians that Chitalu is the country’s best ever player,” sports writer for BolaZambia.com, Sydney Mungala, told FRANCE 24. “But even inside the country we are debating whether or not the games he played in are competitive enough to make him the world’s best scorer.”

Mungala also believes that the timing of the move will be treated suspiciously by FIFA. “We’ve had 40 years to do this - why now?” he asked. “It’s obviously connected to Messi’s new record.”

Nonetheless, Mungala hopes to see FIFA acknowledge the findings, even if it doesn’t make Chitalu world champion. “There’s no doubt he scored 107 goals, but whether he would be able to do the same in today’s era is another question,” he said. “He’s certainly no match for Messi.”

Messi's record was also contested by Brazilian club Flamengo on Wednesday when they claimed that former player Zico scored 89 goals in the 1979 season. On the same day, Messi added to his 2012 total with a brace over Cordoba, putting his tally at 88, still 19 short of Chitalu...

Mungala admits that the majority of Zambians would be less objective. On the ZAF’s official Facebook page, one commenter pressed the association for action against FIFA. “We are being robbed of our rightful claim on world history,” he said.

Chitalu died with almost the entire Zambian national team, known as Chipolopolo, in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon in 1993, when he was head coach. In 2011, Zambia became the unlikely winners of the Africa Cup of Nations championship in Gabon. A special tribute to the 1993 team was held after the victory.

FIFA could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Date created : 2012-12-13

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