Germany forward Mario Gomez breathed a huge sigh of relief after scoring twice against the Netherlands in his team's Euro 2012 Group B 2-1 victory on Wednesday, knowing that the nagging criticism that has followed him for years should finally end.
Gomez, long under fire for shooting blanks at big tournaments, has notched three goals in two games after also hitting the target in the Germans' opening win over Portugal.
"After that goal against Portugal I thought things would be easier and that there would be support for me from all sides," the 26-year-old told reporters on Friday. "That was not the case."
The Germany forward had failed to score at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup and had to carry the tag of under-performer going into this tournament despite a goal-rich last two seasons for Bayern Munich.
Even after the win over Portugal there was sharp criticism at home that overall he was lacking the killer finish needed to leave his mark on the big stage.
His first goal against Netherlands, however, created by a lovely piece of skill inside the box, was his answer to the critics, one of whom accused him of lying around so much "he would get bedsores".
"There was enormous pressure before the game, just enormous, and it was extremely difficult for me," he said, adding that he did not celebrate the goal as he felt more relieved than happy.
"After the first goal, I ran towards this orange wall of Dutch fans. Then I turned back. I did not celebrate because maybe it was such a relief. It was not as easy for me as you'd think.
"I am not interested in being top scorer. I am interested in winning the title. This tournament is not about Mario Gomez, it is about the German national team."
The forward also shared Spain striker Fernando Torres's delight after he scored twice against Ireland on Thursday for his first tournament goals since 2008.
"I am happy for him. He had a damned difficult time. We are colleagues and I can imagine what he went through in the past few months when he was almost not selected," said Gomez.comments