Harry Kane has taken to life in Germany like a duck to water. Or more literally, like a world-class striker playing in a world-class team that dominates their league and creates a hatful of chances almost every week.
Following his recent Champions League strike against Galatasaray on the 24th of October 2023, the former Spurs man has netted 11 goals for his new club already. An impressive, if not unexpected, six assists in addition to that, take his goal involvements to 17 in his opening 12 games with Bayern. Those are incredible numbers and the Walthamostow-born player is a big hit in Bavaria.
However, Kane was 30 years old in July. His game is not one that relies on pace, which could mean his career at the very top lasts well into his mid or even late 30s. That said, he may have joined Bayern too late to truly establish himself as one of the club’s all-time greats. The six-time UEFA Champions League champions have had so many incredible players over the years but here are the best five footballers to ever play for Bayern Munich.
The club’s record appearance-maker seems a great place to start in terms of the top five Bayern Munich players of all time. Sepp Maier was a one-club man who joined Bayern as a youth in 1959, made his league debut in 1962 and stayed with the Bavarians until 1980. Capped 95 times by West Germany he is one of his country’s best ever players and certainly his club’s greatest ever goalkeeper. After retiring he coached the national team’s stoppers for a while before fulfilling the same role with his former club between 1994 and 2008, further cementing his status as one of FC Hollywood’s all-time greats.
During his almost 20 years in the first team, he amassed an impressive 700 appearances for the club. He helped the German giants win the league on five occasions, as well as the European Cup three times in a row from 1974. He was also between the sticks for Bayern’s earlier win in the 1966/67 European Cup Winners’ Cup, and helped West Germany win the Euros in 1972 and World Cup in 1974. A true legend, he has been named in Bayern Munich’s All-Time XI and, among a host of other individual accolades, was the German Footballer of the Year in 1975, 1977 and 1978.
Beckenbauer played for the Bavarian giants between 1964 and 1977 and so had Maier behind him for his entire time at the club. Beckenbauer sits fifth in terms of appearances, having played for Bayern 582 times in all competitions and he too went on to work for the club once he retired from playing. He managed the team to the Bundesliga title in 1993/94 and the UEFA Cup in 1995/96, adding these honours to the 14 major trophies he won as a player, including that same hat-trick of European Cups that Maier claimed. Beckenbauer also managed his national team to World Cup success in 1990, that making him just the third person in history to play for and manage a World Cup winning side after his success in the 1974 final as the West German skipper.
In addition to all the honours he won, the appearances he made, the 75 goals he scored, his success as a manager and his role as a Bayern ambassador, Beckenbauer will also be remembered for the way he revolutionised football. If he didn’t invent the role of the sweeper, he certainly brought it to the fore. Moreover, he is the only defender ever to win the Ballon d’Or twice (in 1972 and 1976) and was also second twice and third once. With 103 caps and 14 goals for his nation he is a true German hero, beloved by those at Bayern and beyond.
It is hard to pick anyone from beyond the golden team of the 1970s but Thomas Muller deserves to be selected. He has helped his side to win two Champions League titles for one thing, not to mention an incredible 12 Bundesligas. He turned 34 in September 2023 and is still playing for Bayern but at the time of writing has turned out for his club 675 times, scoring 235 goals. He has played in a range of positions over the years but has not tended to be deployed as an out-and-out striker. His versatility has seen him play almost anywhere across a front three or four, and also in an attacking or wide midfield role. That has limited his goals but made him a huge favourite of numerous managers over the years, both with his club and his country, for whom he has played 125 times and netted 45 goals.
Muller is second in terms of appearances for Bavarian outfit and could yet overtake Maier. He sits third on the list of the club’s record goalscorers and is their record assist-maker in the Bundesliga. All in all he simply has to be classed among the best of the best and he is a Bayern player through and through. He won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, when he won both the Silver Ball and the Silver Boot. However, in 2010 he actually won the Golden Boot, as well as the Best Young Player award.
One man who could not be excluded from any list of Bayern Munich’s greatest ever players is Gerd Muller. No relation to the much younger Thomas, he played for FC Hollywood between 1964 and 1979 and scored the goals that fired his side to their European treble. He has played for the club over 600 times, putting him fourth in terms of all-time appearances but in terms of goals he has no equal.
Muller notched a staggering 563 goals for his primary club, that total all the more impressive as it came from just 605 appearances. In his total club career, he bagged 654 goals in 716 games, whilst for his national side he managed 68 in just 62 matches. His goals-per-game record is up there with the very best of all time and he netted 14 in 13 World Cup appearances (1970 and 1974) which illustrates just how classy he was. He won the Ballon d’Or in 1970 and made the top three on three further occasions. In discussions of the best out-and-out strikers of all time, he is right up there.
This list is not in order, though we’ll admit that striker Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has stolen the “last” spot. We feel the four above him cannot be ignored but choosing from players such as goalkeeping duo Oliver Kahn and Manuel Neuer, plus the likes of Lothar Matthaus, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Robert Lewandowski and others is far from easy. In the end we feel that Rummenigge’s goals, the fact he won the European Cup twice with Bayern and, perhaps more than anything, that he was twice named winner of the Ballon d’Or, give him the edge.
He made the Bayern Munich All-Time XI too, as well as being the German Footballer of the Year in 1980. With his club he won the Bundesliga twice, whilst with his nation he won the 1980 Euros and made the final of the World Cup in both 1982 and 1986 (losing both). He scored 217 goals in 422 games for Bayern, plus 45 in 95 for West Germany, achieved whilst often playing behind the main striker, was some tally, whilst his role on the board of the club adds extra weight to his argument for being listed as one of the greats.