By: Shreshta Trivedi
Ronaldinho, Zidane, Ronaldo, Ballack, Crespo, Totti, Figo, Beckham. World Cups have always been about Superstars. Now there is one more addition to the list - Miroslav Klose.
This agile striker, nick named Salto- Klose because of his trademark somersaults after every goal, has become the heartthrob of millions with his ‘boy next door good looks’. His shy demeanour coupled with old-world chivalry, a complete antithesis to aggressive persona of the leading footballers, just makes him all the more endearing.
Mere good looks, no substance? Not this gentleman!
With his exceptional aerial ability, he has been the leading goal scorer of the tournament with five goals, thereby bagging Golden Shoe award. With his equaliser against Argentina in Berlin, the 28-year-old became the first German player to score five goals in two separate editions of the tournament. He is also only the second player in history to achieve the feat after Peru’s Teofilo Cubillas, who scored five in both the 1970 and 1974 FIFA World Cups.
The general perception before the World Cup was that Germany had one world-class player in Michael Ballack, two good goalkeepers, a bunch of kiddos and some lumbering midfielders. Yes, it is difficult to believe this now as Klose has been the outstanding attacking player of the tournament and he was by no means the only achiever. Young striker Lukas Podolski, defenders Per Mertesacker, Christoph Metzelder, Philipp Lahm, and midfielder Bernd Schneider also proved their mettle and truly looked like world-beaters. And of-course, the contribution of the coach Klinsmann can’t be overlooked. His critics were left eating their words after his young side took third place on the back of an attractive brand of high-tempo, attacking football.
Klose was born on 9th June 1978, in Oppeln in the Silesia region of Poland (which was German territory before World War II) to Barbara; who was a member of the Polish national handball team, and Josef Klose; an ethnic German was a professional soccer player for AJ Auxerre in France.
His family moved to Germany when Miroslav was nine-years-old and at that young age he began his career with SG Blaubach-Diedelkopf near Kaiserslautern. As a youngster trying to adapt to new surroundings and a new language, football was an ideal way of integrating to his new home. Soon, ‘Miro’ was spending most of his free time playing matches.
For a long time, Klose remained undiscovered in the amateur league, where his talent was overlooked. After a stint with FC Hamburg in the third division, Klose secured a switch to the Kaiserslautern amateur team as a 22-year-old. Current Greek national coach Otto Rehhagel handed the hungry striker his first professional opportunity in the 2000/1 season. Klose made his debut against Eintracht Frankfurt before scoring his first professional goal in October 2000 against his current employers Werder Bremen.
Klose’s outstanding club performances did not go unnoticed by national coach Rudi Voller, who handed the player his international debut at the beginning of 2001."Miro has a little bit of everything. He is good in the air, strong in the tackle, he has pace, a certain guile and he likes to dribble the ball,” said Voller in praise of his striker.
Klose made his international bow in the FIFA World Cup qualifier in Albania in March 2001, scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 victory.
In 2002 FIFA World Cup the striker earned instant popularity as he bagged a hat trick leading to the demolition of Saudi Arabia by 8-0, thereby exploding onto the world stage with panache. He went on to become one of the shooting stars of the tournament, finishing as Germany’s top scorer with five goals and second only to Brazil’s Ronaldo in the final standings. The tournament marked an international breakthrough for the young forward.
But things were not always rosy.
After a successful tournament in Asia, Klose’s career hit the stops. He spent the whole of the following season battling relegation with his club and his form at the international level departed him. Klose saved his club from financial ruin, selling his transfer rights to a lottery company for €5m.
In the summer of 2004, the coveted striker switched to German champions Werder Bremen. After a difficult start, Klose became equally popular in Bremen as he was at his home club Kaiserslautern, and forged one of the most feared strike partnerships in the league with Croatian international Ivan Klasnic.
After sitting out the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005 with a knee injury, Klose went into the FIFA World Cup on home soil as the seasoned number one striker in the German attack, with a total of 50 international appearances under his belt.
His great form and sublime skills not only ensured that Germany secured that third position in the tournament but also helped young, fledging players like Podolski to come up in a big way.Coach Klinsmann sees Klose as a “total team player” and “an ideal strike partner for Podolski”.
In fact his feats have already sparked comparisons with former great Gerd Muller, who picked up the nickname the `Bomber` with his tally of 68 goals from 62 international matches for Germany.
But the self confessed “family man” is unfazed by all the hype and hoopla. Married to his childhood sweetheart Sylwia, he enjoys watching Nicolas Cage’s movies apart from playing daddy dearest to twins Luan and Noah.
So to the female fans, who wore” I wanna have your Babies” T-shirts during the matches; sorry ladies- no such luck!