Germany’s most prolific ever striker announced his retirement from football today, bringing the curtain down on one of history’s most storied players. Miroslav Klose as a player won everything at International level and also dominated the European club scene for almost two decades. A typical centre forward, Klose is regarded as on of the finest exponents of the aerial game.
Whenever Klose scored, Germany never lost a single game. He never finished worse than third in all the International tournaments he took part in, right from the 2002 World Cup upto the 2014 World Cup. Klose ended his career as the highest scoring player in FIFA World Cup history, scoring 16 times. When you think about it for a second, one realises how astonishing a feat that is considering the talent that has graced football’s greatest event.
Miroslav Klose started out slow, but soon became one of the best strikers in the German Bundesliga when he played for Kaisersluatern. It was here that he first made his name as a World Class Center forward, and his subsequent performances for both club and country would earn him a transfer with the biggest club in German football, Bayern Munich.
In the 2002 World Cup, Germany were not a very strong team and they were not expected by many to reach the finals. But true to their style, the German machine went ahead and finished runners up to Brazil. Klose would score 5 goals in that time including a hat-trick of headers. He was at it again in the 2006 edition when he won the Golden Boot with 5 goals but Germany had to settle for third place. They were again thwarted in the 2010 finals and the European Championships, finishing once again 3rd and 2nd respectively. With 4 more goals, Klose now stood at 14 goals in World Cup finals before the 2014 event. Although he wasn’t a guaranteed starter, the lack of quality options up front forced Joachim Loew to field the aging striker once again. And he would not disappoint. He could manage just 2 goals in the tournament, but they were enough to make him the greatest marksman in the history of the World Cup. It also helped him to finally win an International trophy at the 6th time of asking, a fitting end to a deserving career.
But it is not just the goals that mark Klose out as special. He was a smart and intelligent footballer, who relied on finesse and guile to score his goals, once his speed and physical attributes started diminishing. His level of play never dropped, and he continued to re-invent himself and find new ways to torment his opposition. Klose was a prototype center forward, able to play with his back to the goal, hold up the ball and pass the ball to an open teammate for an assist. In the beginning of his career, he was able to beat his defenders with quick feet and turns, but as his career went on, he relied more on his poacher’s instinct to score goals. Positioning, conditioning and a god-given eye for goal were his greatest allies. And obviously, there were few better than him in the air, a feature of his game till the very end.
He ended his career with Lazio, representing them with great distinction and becoming a fan’s favourite. He is also known for his fair play, for which he won multiple awards with the German FA. He once told the referee he had scored a goal with his hand without any protest from the opposition, an act that would bring him a fair play award.
Strong in the air, good with his feet, intelligent in thinking and good at heart, it is hard to find a better footballer in today’s game and Germany would find it hard to replace one of the game’s greatest servants. Here’s wishing him a happy retired life and all the best for the future.
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