Miroslav who? The humble 36-year-old Germany striker Klose etched his Polish name into immortality on Saturday when he scored his 15th World Cup goal in the match against Ghana. Equalling the record held by former Brazil striker Ronaldo with his 71st minute strike, Klose has quietly put his name into the history books with a remarkable lack of drama.
Famous for performing mid-air somersaults to celebrate scoring important goals earlier in his career, he changed to mostly raising a clenched fist and giving a quick smile before putting his serious game face back on and getting back to work. But on Saturday the somersault was back after he scored the equaliser from close range with his first touch less than two minutes after coming off the bench. “I don’t know how long its been since I did a somersault. But at least it worked out,” he said after the match. “Twenty (World Cup) matches and 15 goals isn’t bad at all.”
His goal against Ghana also moved Klose one ahead in the World Cup scoring list of compatriot Gerd Mueller, who led West Germany to the 1974 World Cup title.
The soft-spoken Klose is the antithesis of flamboyant and in many ways the epitome of Germany’s star-less World Cup teams. Tall and strong in the air, Klose is known for his superb timing and leaping ability. He has been consistently lethal in front of goal in the last three World Cups helped by the fact that Germany reached the final and semi-finals twice.
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In 2002 Klose scored five headed goals as Germany made it to the final, where they lost 2-0 to Brazil with Ronaldo scoring twice to register eight for the tournament. Four years later with Germany as hosts, Klose won the Golden Boot when he scored another five goals. In 2010 he scored four more.
Klose has seen off challenges from a number of younger strikers eager to replace him, including Mario Gomez. In fact, Klose is the only specialised striker in Germany coach Joachim Loew’s squad in Brazil after Gomez was dropped.
Klose moved with his Polish family to Germany in 1986 at the age of eight when he spoke only a few words of German. He broke into the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern in 1999 and five years later moved to Werder Bremen before joining Bayern Munich in 2007. He was transferred to Lazio three years ago.
Alongside his record-breaking goal tally, Klose will long be remembered for his sportsmanship with his acts of fair play making headline news in Germany. He told a referee in Italy in 2012 to disallow a goal he had just scored because he used his hand. Seven years earlier, playing for Werder Bremen, he declined to accept a penalty because he did not think he had been fouled.