When German coach Joachim Loew decided to field Mario Gomez in the playing XI in place of goal-machine Miroslav Klose in their first match of Euro 2012 against Portugal, most of the German fans were surprised.
Mario Gomez, despite his talent, had always struggled in his national colours. His record in high profile tournaments like Euro and World Cup were pretty poor. Despite scoring 22 goals for Germany and 127 Bundesliga goals, he had never struck a single goal in major tournaments. He had been much maligned in Germany in the past after poor performances for the national football team. On the other hand, Klose always delivered for Germany.
But Gomez’s superb form for Bayern Munich this season actually compelled Loew to include him in the Germany Euro squad. Gomez came to the European championship on the back of a stellar season after scoring 41 goals for Bayern.
This is why many in Germany thought he deserved a chance as a back-up striker for Klose. But they never thought, not even in their distant dreams that he will make such an impact at the biggest football event in Europe. He has so far displayed his magnificent club form at the international stage. It is similar to a cricketer using his IPL or Big Bash form to perform well at the international level.
And what a turn-around he has made! He has netted all the three goals the Germans have scored in Euro 2012 so far. Having scored the lone goal against Portugal in Germany`s opening Group B win, Gomez scored two excellent first-half goals in their 2-1 win over the Netherlands. The two victories have helped Germany top Group B and they are on the verge of another quarter-finals appearance. His performance prompted Bild, Germany’s largest circulated daily, to hail him as the nation’s new “Soccer Darling.”
His goal scoring ability has even made his Germany and Bayern Munich colleague Bastian Schweinsteiger compare him with legendary Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who helped his team win Champions League title this year against the high-profile club from Munich.
“The good thing with Mario is that he needs almost zero chances and still scores, just like Didier Drogba, I would put those two more or less on the same level,” said Schweinsteiger.
No doubt the first goal he scored in Euro 2012 has changed his football career which looked very promising ever since he had started at the age of 19 with VFB Stuttgart in 2004. “It felt like a 100-pound burden was lifted off my shoulders,” he said after he scored his first goal. “This was my best and most important goal so far," said Gomez, who almost single-handedly helped VFB Stuttgart win the Bundesliga title in 2007.
Ever since he made his Bundesliga debut, goal scoring has been a joy for him. “For me, scoring goals is the most fun. That’s why I love soccer so much,” said the striker, whose father is Spanish and mother a German. Not a bad combination for a footballer!