Last Updated: Monday, July 14, 2014, 05:16
Rio de Janeiro: When Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 with Miroslav Klose becoming the World Cup’s all-team leading goalscorer, Mario Goetze could probably have been forgiven for not leading the cheers from the sidelines.
Having arrived in Brazil as his country’s first-choice forward he watched that entire semi-final from the bench having been dropped earlier in the tournament and replaced by Klose.
Goetze was again among the substitutes for Sunday’s final and would have had few expectations of being involved as coach Joachim Loew understandably kept faith with the team which had marched into the final in such style.
However, Loew threw him on for Klose two minutes from the end of normal time and he repaid him the most spectacular way possible by smashing in brilliant goal seven minutes from the end of extra time to beat Argentina 1-0 and secure his country`s fourth World Cup and first since 1990 - two years before he was born.
Fellow substitute Andre Schuerrle advanced past a tiring Argentine defence down the left and picked out Goetze in the box. The 22-year-old leapt to control the ball on his chest before stretching to sweep a sweet volley beyond Sergio Romero.
A few months ago Goetze`s career was on a one-way upward trajectory.
Having helped Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles and into the 2013 Champions League final he did what all great German players seem to do - agree a huge transfer to Bayern Munich.
Another league and cup double duly followed and he completely won over Loew, who loved the versatility that allowed him to use the quick-footed and mobile player as a midfielder or even lone striker.
Once in Brazil he started the opening 4-0 win over Portugal and got the first goal in the 2-2 draw with Ghana but was a substitute in the final group game against the U.S.
He was restored to the starting lineup for the second round against Algeria but played poorly and was hauled off at halftime.
With Klose established in the side he had to settle for another late sub appearance in the quarter-final victory over France and must have found it difficult as pundits praised Loew for finally finding the right lineup.
How Goetze must have longed to have been involved as Brazil`s defence opened up so invitingly in Belo Horizonte but the goals were spread elsewhere and it was Klose, supported by Thomas Mueller and Tony Kroos, who were again going to be the goalscoring threat in the final.
Loew`s final plans were no doubt disrupted by the pre-match withdrawal of Sami Khedira and then being forced to replace his replacement Christoph Kramer with Schuerrle after half an hour.
But there was still time for Goetze to become involved, and how he grasped the opportunity, becoming the only substitute to score the winning goal in a World Cup final.
"It`s incredibly important that we stuck together," said Klose.
"At halftime I told Mario `I think you’ll get a goal tonight.`
"It’s just incredible."
First Published: Monday, July 14, 2014, 05:16