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World Cup Heroes: Thomas Muller

Last weekend we witnessed Germany lift the World Cup after defeating Argentina 1-0 after extra-time. The Germans deserved this World Cup triumph after they dominated throughout the competition and many of the Germans were stand-out players during the tournament.

One of these stand-out players was Thomas Muller who was the second highest goalscorer in this year’s competition and was one of the most consistent performers during the World Cup in Brazil. Let’s look at how Thomas Muller went from being a product of the Bayern Munich youth system to becoming a German World Cup hero.

Thomas Muller was born on the 13th of September 1989 in Weilheim in Germany. Muller’s first club was TSV Pahl and he showed that he was a special and rare talent from a young age. A family friend once said,

“Muller stood out playing for TSV Pahl very early on. I remember one season where we scored 165 goals and Muller bagged 120 of them.”

In 2000, he was snapped up by Bayern Munich at the tender age of eleven and he worked his way up the ranks as the club. Muller became an important member of the U-19 squad who were runners-up in the U-19 Bundesliga in 2007.

This kind of form propelled him onto the fringes of the first team the next year and he made his senior debut for Bayern Munich in 2008 under Jurgen Klinsmann. After Klinsmann left, Muller cemented his position in the Bayern Munich first team under Louis Van Gaal as he played in every league game in 2009/10.

At the age of 24, Thomas Muller has racked up 165 games and 58 goals, while he has also achieved three Bundesliga titles, a Champions League title, three DFB Pokal Cups and two DFL Supercups.

Muller also worked his way up the ranks for Germany as he was key for the U-16’s in 2004 and the U-21’s in 2009. This rapid progress early in his career at Bayern Munich and for the German youth sides gained a lot of attention, including that of Joachim Low who called Muller up to the senior side in late 2009.

Muller didn’t play though and had to wait until January 2010 for his debut against Argentina in the Allianz Arena. So far in his international career, Muller has scored 22 goals in 56 games for Germany.

2010 World Cup

Muller along with seven other Bayern Munich players were called up to the German squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He was allocated the number 13, following in the footsteps of previous German legends such was Michael Ballack and Gerd Muller.

Not many believed that the 20-year-old Thomas Muller would make an impact in the 2010 World Cup but he did just that as he became a key player for Germany.

The Germans were drawn into Group D alongside Australia, Serbia and Ghana and they set off on a great foot by defeating Australia 4-0 and Thomas Muller made an impact by scoring the third goal for his country as Podolski, Klose and Cacau also got on the scoresheet.

The Germans fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to Serbia in their second group game as a Milan Jovanovic goal was enough for the Serbians to claim victory but the Germans ended up topping their group anyway by defeating Ghana 1-0 through a goal from Mesut Ozil. The Germans stepped up their performances in the knockout stages and impressed by defeating England 4-1 with Muller being their star man as he scored two and assisted another.

The Germans rolled on to the quarter-finals and were impressive again as they defeated Argentina 4-0 in a game where Muller opened the scoring with a header early in the game.

Muller opened the floodgates for the Germans as two goals from Miroslav Klose and one from Arne Friedrich followed in the second half. Earlier in the year, Argentine boss Diego Maradona mistook Muller for a ball boy and after this crushing of Argentina, Muller sent out a message to Maradona by saying,

“He won’t think I’m a ball boy anymore.”

Unfortunately for Muller, he received his second yellow card of the competition during the game against Argentina and it resulted in him missing the semi-final against Spain. This semi-final was also the end of the road for the Germans as a Puyol goal resulted in a Spanish win but Muller featured again in the 3rd place play-off against Uruguay which the Germans won 3-2.

Muller also opened the scoring in this game while Marcell Jansen and Sami Khedira netted the others for the Germans. Muller’s five goals resulted in him being joint top scorer in the competition and he also received young player of the tournament. There was no one more surprised about his unbelievable form than Muller himself,

“I basically got lucky. I hit form at just the right time.”

2014 World Cup

Muller returned with Germany to this year’s World Cup competition in Brazil and the Germans were drawn into Group G alongside Portugal, Ghana and the USA. He continued his impressive World Cup form from the 2010 competition into this summer’s competition as he scored the competition’s first hat trick during a 4-0 win over Portugal in their opening group game.

Muller opened the scoring with a penalty after only twelve minutes. Mats Hummels scored a header after 32 minutes and Muller scored again before halftime as he smashed a loose ball into the back of the Portugal net. Muller wasn’t finished there though as in the 78th minute he was in the right place at the right time to tap in the rebound after a saved Andre Schurrle shot.

Muller was also caught up in some controversy during this game as he was on the receiving end of Pepe’s headbutt that resulted in the Portuguese player being sent off.

Germany drew 2-2 in their next game against Ghana where they fell behind 2-1 only to be saved by talisman Miroslav Klose.

Germany were still in a great position to qualify and topped their group thanks to a Muller goal that led to 1-0 win over the USA. They were then set to face Algeria in the round of 16 which was looking like a certain win for the Germans but they scraped past the Algerians 2-1 after extra time thanks to Schurrle and Ozil.

Germany were set to face a tough French side in the quarter finals and it wasn’t the most the exciting game as the tight affair ended 1-0 in favour of the Germans thanks to a 13th minute goal from Mats Hummels.

The semi finals awaited Jogui Low’s side and they were determined to a go a step further than they had in 2010. They did so emphatically, destroying the hosts Brazil on a scoreline of 7-1.

Muller opened the scoring after 11 minutes after he put home a German corner which was badly defended by the Brazilians. This early goal from Muller then seemed to shock the Brazilians as goals from Klose, Khedira and two Kroos goals occurred before the half hour mark. Schurrle then came off the bench to score twice in the last twenty minutes for Germany while a 90th minute Oscar goal meant nothing for the Brazilians.

Muller’s goal against the Brazilians was the 2000th goal in German history and also made him the third player to score at least five goals in consecutive tournaments after Peru’s Teofilo Cubillas and Muller’s compatriot Miroslav Klose.

On July 11th, Muller was named on the 10 man shortlist for FIFA’s Golden Ball award which was eventually won by Messi while he was also the second highest goalscorer in this year’s competition. Although Muller didn’t win those awards, he did win the biggest prize of all as Germany lifted the World Cup for the fourth time and the first time as a united nation.

The final against Argentina was a very close game that could have went either way but in the 113th minute Mario Gotze superbly finished for the Germans after an Andre Schurrle cross. The Germans had successfully gone a step further than they did in South Africa in 2010 and they deservedly lifted the World Cup trophy in the Maracana.

This won’t be the last time that Thomas Muller will be the star man for Germany. He is only 24 which means he has two or three World Cup tournaments left in him.

German coach Joachim Low put it perfectly,

“Muller is a very unorthodox player and you can’t really predict his lines of running, but he has one aim and that is how can I score a goal.”

Thomas Muller, the youngest World Cup legend in the world.

Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena.

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