The FIFA World Cup has often been the stage for players to showcase their true quality, and nobody did it better throughout the years than German icon Miroslav Klose.
While originally Polish, Klose moved to West Germany with his family when he was just eight, and there he eventually switched to having a German passport and playing for local club SG Blaubach-Diedelkopf.
Klose then started his professional career at the age of 20 at FC Homburg, and then moved to 1. FC Kaiserslautern, starting for the second team until he made his first Bundesliga appearance in April 2000.
He then became a key member of Kaiserslautern’s first-team in the coming season, scoring nine goals and providing three assists in 29 Bundesliga games, even playing in all of the club’s games in the UEFA Cup.
His impressive form earned him his first call-up for Germany, after declining the chance to play for Poland, and on his debut in a 2002 World Cup qualifier, he came on in the 73rd minute, and scored the winner with just two minutes left, celebrating with his now iconic front-flip.
He continued to score regularly for club and country ahead of the 2002 World Cup, and during the competition he managed to gain international prominence after scoring five headed goals for Germany, finishing as the joint second-highest goalscorer at the age of just 24.
Ahead of the 2004/05 season, Kaiserslautern accepted a €5 million offer from Werder Bremen for Klose, with Die Grün-Weißen winning the domestic double in the previous season.
This move took him to the next level, with him going on to score 17 goals and 11 assists in 45 appearances in all competitions in his first season, and then an outstanding 31 goals and 17 assists in 40 appearances in the next.
In the 2006 World Cup played in Germany, Klose finished as the tournament’s top scorer, winning the World Cup Golden Boot Award with five goals, as Germany were knocked out in the semi-finals.
His consistency would then earn him a move to German giants Bayern Munich for €15 million in 2007, and there he won his first major honours, winning the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal in 2007/08, scoring 21 goals and providing 12 assists in his debut season.
At UEFA Euro 2008, Klose scored his first career goals in the competition, with his two goals being the winners in the quarter-final and semi-final against Portugal and Turkey respectively. However, he was unable to score in the final as Germany lost 1-0 against Spain.
While his goals at club level started to dry up, with Bayern Munich manager Louis van Gaal preferring other options up front such as Ivica Olic and Mario Gomez to him, he continued to thrive internationally.
In the 2010 World Cup, he made his 100th international appearance and went level with Gerd Müller as the all-time German World Cup scorer in the quarter-final against Argentina.
His contract at Bayern expired in 2011, with him coming off the back of a season where he scored just one Bundesliga goal in 20 appearances, and as a result he then signed a three-year contract with Lazio.
Despite being at the latter stages of his career, the move to Italy revitalised his club form, with him finishing his first season with 15 goals and ten assists in 35 appearances, as Lazio finished in the European spots.
His figures for Lazio continued to be impressive in the following season, but then over the next few seasons he started to suffer from plenty of minor injuries that disrupted his form at club level, leading to him failing to reach double figures for goals in the 2013/14 and 2015/16 seasons.
As was the case for most of his career, the World Cup was where Klose showcased his brilliance in front of goal, and prior to the 2014 World Cup, he announced that it would be his final one for Germany.
In a friendly against Armenia before the competition, Klose scored his 69th international goal, becoming Germany’s all-time record goalscorer.
In the competition, he became the third player in history to score in four different World Cups, and he would also go on to score against Brazil in the semi-finals in the historic 7-1 win, thus becoming the World Cup’s all-time top scorer with 16 goals.
He would go on to start the final against Argentina, and in the 88th minute he was taken off for Mario Götze, who went on to score the decisive goal and win Germany their fourth World Cup title overall.
He then announced his retirement from football in 2016 at the age of 38.
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