Miroslav Klose names his heir who could break records for Germany
The year was 2010 and the 19th edition of the World Cup was held in South Africa.
For the third consecutive time, Germany had reached the semi-finals of the tournament. After finishing third on home ground in the previous edition, the Germans were raring to go at least one better by overcoming Spain and reaching the final.
Only the Spaniards had other ideas, as they edged Die Mannschaft 1-0 through Carles Puyol’s 73rd-minute goal. Once again, Germany striker Miroslav Klose and his teammates had to experience heartache, after losing to Brazil 2-0 in the 2002 final and to Italy by the same score in the 2006 semi-final.
“I don’t think there was one point that really stands out for me as a low in my career, but we came so close so many times and losing in the 2002 final was really heartbreaking,” Klose tells FourFourTwo through a translator.
His biggest achievement
But Klose's time would come. Four years after South Africa, Germany would return with a vengeance, devastating all who stood in their path. Just ask 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil, who were thumped 7-1 in the semi-final.
Aided by Klose, who scored two goals to become the tournament’s most prolific marksman ever with 16 goals across four editions, Germany would eventually trump Argentina 1-0 to land their fourth world title.
Already Germany’s all-time top national scorer with 71 goals in 137 appearances, the 36-year-old Klose finally decided to retire from international duty, especially after he had accomplished what he had set out to do when he took to the field in Japan in 2002.
“The World Cup was by far the biggest achievement for me,” Klose says.
“In a national career of 17 years and four World Cups, and always coming so close - 2002, 2006, 2010 - and then to be able to finally win it was big, especially with such a core group which was together for such a long time, with Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski who were all in the team.
“We were so close so many times, so the achievement was even bigger for us to finally win it and the national team is the biggest stage a player can play for.”
Quitting the game
Klose continued to be involved in football, appearing occasionally as an ambassador for Bayern Munich.
Klose would play on for another three years at the club level with Lazio, before finally hanging up his boots in 2016. He took the opportunity to spend more time with his family, while pursuing his hobby as an angler.
But Klose continued to be involved in football, appearing occasionally as an ambassador for Bayern Munich. He also dabbled in some coaching, with Germany boss Joachim Loew recruiting him as an assistant coach during Die Mannschaft’s 2017 Confederations Cup campaign.
Despite picking a squad chock-full of youngsters, the Germans won the cup for the first time.
Seeing that was gratifying for Klose. He may no longer be participating on the field as a player, but the fact that his beloved nation was still going strong soothed him.
“What really stood out for me was how well (this Germany squad) worked as a team because they hadn’t played together before and they really clicked as a team,” Klose says. “These players are really well-educated, they have a good foundation which we can work on.
“There’s always young talents coming up, so stars that are their peak level, for them they have to maintain that level because if they lose out, they are going to replaced by young players. The national team is the biggest team you can play for in Germany, so it’s been a really high level for a long time and I am proud to have been part of it.”
His heir apparent
Looking towards the 2018 World Cup, the future seems bright for the Germans to enjoy a good run in the tournament again, despite a less-than-ideal Euro 2016.
Klose isn’t really bothered about his record of 16 goals at World Cup finals, and believes it might be broken by a fellow countryman, Thomas Muller. The Bayern Munich forward has already scored 10 goals across two editions and Klose backs the 27-year-old to carry on his form and eventually surpass his tally.
“During my career I didn’t have many thoughts about my individual achievements or anything: once you think about your achievements, you can’t reach another level,” Klose explains.
“But it’s definitely almost (down to) Muller, because like me he scored five goals in each of his first two World Cups. If he stays healthy throughout his career, he is definitely one candidate for that, and I wish him all the best for it.”