Cape Town: Four months after refusing to share a stage with Thomas Mueller, Diego Maradona will surely recognize the Germany midfielder now.
The 20-year-old had another outstanding match at the World Cup on Saturday, scoring the first goal and proving a constant threat as Germany thrashed Argentina 4-0 in the quarterfinal.
The performance comes after Maradona refused to share a podium with Mueller after a friendly between the two teams. He has scored four goals in South Africa.
“I’m happy that we won, and that’s more a side story,” Mueller said.
Humility aside, there are few followers of world football left who aren’t familiar with Mueller by now. He scored twice in Germany’s second-round win over England and has inspired his team as a scorer and playmaker from his wide-right position.
Still, there was heartbreak for Mueller as a yellow card picked up for a handball means he is suspended for the semifinal.
“The goal gave me a great feeling, and the yellow card gave me exactly the opposite,” Mueller said. “I just hoped the free kick wouldn’t go in. I knew what was going on, that I was suspended. It bothered me for a minute, but then the game went on.”
Mueller celebrated with a beer with his teammates after the match, knowing that he would definitely play once more in South Africa. He just wanted it would be in a final, and not a consolation third-place match.
“We have reached another semifinal, so naturally there was a little beer. But nothing out of proportion,” Mueller said. “The way the guys are playing, I have a good feeling. The guys who come on as substitutes aren’t worse. They bring the team new energy. That’s why I’m optimistic.”
Germany coach Joachim Loew said it would be hard for Germany without the Bayern Munich youngster.
“He will be a great loss,” Loew said. “He showed how dangerous he is before the goal. This handball wasn’t worth a yellow. But we have players who can replace him.”
Asked whether he felt his ban was justified, Mueller shrugged.
“I wouldn’t have minded if it wasn’t a yellow card,” he said, laughing. “You would know better than I do. I haven’t seen it on television.”