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Zambian FA to challenge Messi record

ESPN staff
December 12, 2012 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
Lionel Messi broke Gerd Muller's record with a brace of goals against Real Betis © PA Photos
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The Zambian Football Association is to contest the validity of Lionel Messi's record calendar year goalscoring record.

Messi's brace for Barcelona in their 2-1 Primera Division win against Real Betis on Sunday took him onto 86 goals and past Gerd Muller's tally of 85 but the Zambian FA claims to have new evidence ready to present to FIFA which will show Kabwe Warriors striker Godfrey Chitalu scored 107 goals in 1972.

"We have this record, which has been recorded in Zambian football, but unfortunately it has not been recorded in world football," a Zambia FA spokesperson told Soccer Laduma. "Even as the world has been looking at Lionel Messi's record, breaking Gerd Müller'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 Müller's record is there, the actual record holder in terms of goals per calendar year is actually an African. It's actually Godfrey Chitalu."

Chitalu, who won Zambia's player of the year award five times, scored the goals in at least four domestic competitions and the Zambian national team.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi's father says it is impossible to think of his son playing for any other club than Barcelona.

With media reports this week in Spain suggesting Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell was working on a new contract offer which could tie the Argentine to the Camp Nou until 2020, Jorge Messi told Spanish radio station Cadena COPE on Tuesday that he could not imagine his son wearing a different club jersey.

"It is impossible to think about him (leaving)," Messi senior said. "There would have to be a huge accident in the world for Leo to leave Barcelona. He has always said he wants to retire at Barca."

Jorge Messi admitted he had been worried when his son was stretchered off against Benfica last week, but was then delighted when he returned against Betis to break Muller's 40-year-old record.

"It seemed impossible he would beat the record of a monster like (Muller)," he said. "He scored a very important amount of goals. He has the luck to have a team which helps him a lot. He keeps scoring goals so that his team wins titles. Hopefully things will continue like this."

Messi senior said he hoped to be celebrating a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or for the family when the 2012 prize is announced next month, but had kind words for contenders Andres Iniesta and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"If they do not give it to Messi, I do not know who they would give it to," he said. "Of course I could choose Iniesta, he deserves it too. It is closely fought for. Cristiano has had a great season."

Messi was not being falsely modest when he claimed team trophies were more important than personal recognition, his father added.

"He is very competitive with himself and with the team," he said. "He has always said that, and it is the truth. He always puts the team first. What he wants to achieve are trophies for the team, not personal awards. He is very frank when he says that."

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