Paul Breitner is number 44 in 90min's Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series. 

Paul Breitner split opinions. Der Afro was prominent for his beliefs away from football, but not quite as much for his ability on the pitch.

The Bayern Munich and Real Madrid legend was one of the best players in the world in two different positions, cementing his place in history at international level with West Germany by scoring in two different World Cup finals.

So strap yourselves in for a journey to the past, as 90min go through Breitner's best moments.

1982 World Cup

Paolo Rossi

Breitner came out of international retirement to play in a second World Cup in 1982, and the Bayern Munich star became one of West Germany's most important leaders as they set up a clash against Italy in the final.

Die Nationalmannschaft lost in Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu - opponents Italy were inspired by Golden Boot winner Paolo Rossi - but it was still a monumental tournament for Breitner personally.

He became just the third player in history to score in two different World Cup finals in 1982, after Pelé and Vavá reached that achievement in the decades earlier. Zinedine Zidane also joined that select group some years later.

The (Almost) Ballon d'Or

A picture taken on December 7, 2008 in B

Breitner didn't know that 1982 was the last full calendar year he would play football, but the latter stages of Der Afro's career were arguably his best.

That was certainly the case 12 months before Breitner's West Germany lost the World Cup final, when he found himself finishing second place in the Ballon d'Or rankings.

Breitner's place on the shortlist highlighted his nation's superiority in Europe at the time, finishing ahead of third-place Bernd Schuster and behind only his Bayern Munich teammate Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who picked up back-to-back Ballon d'Or trophies. 

Returning to Bayern Munich

Paul Breitner

Breitner was a star at Bayern Munich the first time around. He largely played as a full-back earlier in his career, but after returning from Real Madrid as a midfielder, he captained the Bavarians at the start of a decade where they lifted five league titles.

In 1981, Breitner was named as the Footballer of the Year and finished second in the Ballon d'Or, having picked up consecutive Bundesliga trophies and cemented his place as a certified Bayern Munich legend.



It wasn't just Breitner's seniority at Bayern Munich that made the German giants so good. Der Afro formed an unbelievable partnership with star forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Rummenigge was Bayern's top goalscorer in 1980, but it was his partnership with Breitner - a due that was aptly nicknamed Breitnigge - which was one of European football's best ever throughout history.

Bayern Munich scored 89 league goals the following season, 46 of which came from Breitnigge

1974 World Cup

Gerd Muller,Paul Breitner

He could have been out of his depth with West Germany in 1974, starting in a side that included the likes of Franz BeckenbauerGerd Müller and Günter Netzer.

Der Afro didn't quite have his reputation for scoring stunning goals at the start of the tournament, but a long-range effort in each of the World Cup's group stages soon changed that.

And it was a goal at the World Cup that became Breitner's pièce de résistance, coming in the final against Holland's best-ever team. 

But it wasn't from distance. Instead, Der Afro stepped up for a penalty which he wasn't even meant to take and he made no mistake as West Germany went on to win the second World Cup trophy in their history.

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90min's 'Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time' can be found here

Number 50: Luka Modric

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi