Lionel Messi record 'belongs to Zambia's Godfrey Chitalu'
Messi has 86 goals, but the great Zambian striker scored 107 times in one year
LIONEL MESSI'S status as the most prolific striker ever is under threat after the Zambian Football Association challenged his claim to hold the record for the most goals scored in a calendar year, insisting that the Barcelona man's tally of 86 was beaten in 1972.
Messi surpassed Gerd Muller's total of 85 strikes in a single year when he netted twice against Real Betis last week. However, he is still some way short of Godfrey Chitalu's incredible, but officially unconfirmed, tally of 107.
Chitalu, who became national coach but died in the 1993 plane crash that killed the Zambian team, is said to have found the net 107 times for Kabwe Warriors in the same year that Muller set his record for Bayern Munich.
The Zambian FA told Zimbabwean newspaper NewsDay that it was now seeking official recognition for Chitalu, who was nicknamed Ucar, after a brand of battery.
"We have this record, which has been recorded in Zambian football, but unfortunately it has not been recorded in world football," said the ZFA. "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."
A team is now working to verify his goals and prove that Chitalu does hold the record, said the ZFA. It explained: "The team... is going to calculate all of those goals, recording whichever game or tournament they were scored in. We will then send that to Caf [the 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... Godfrey Chitalu."
The paper contacted Fifa, which said it had "heard about" Chitalu's achievement and was "checking on it internally".