BLOEMFONTEIN - Just a couple of weeks ago
Germany's Miroslav Klose was persona non grata among German fans
following his trickle of league goals but the striker has
silenced his critics with a sparkling comeback.
On Sunday the 32-year-old, who came into the World Cup after
what appeared his worst season in years with just three league
goals for Bayern Munich, could finally crack a smile.
Pushing team mate and double goal scorer Thomas Mueller
aside and telling him "you've said enough", Klose, who had also
just scored in their 4-1 demolition of England to steer Germany
into the quarter-finals, was in high spirits.
He had just netted his 50th international goal - his second
in this tournament - on his 99th appearance and could not hide
"No, I did not want to show anyone anything. I just wanted
to prove it to myself," he said of Germany's first goal, when he
sprinted past two England defender to slot the ball home.
Only days ago he had been sent off in their Group D defeat
by Serbia and had to sit out Germany's narrow 1-0 win over Ghana
that sent them through the group stage.
The discussion as to whether he was too old had again kicked
off back home.
"I was just happy that the team won against Ghana and I
could play against England," he said after scoring what was his
12th World Cup goal.
The Poland-born striker is now level with Pele on the
all-time World Cup scorers list, just three behind top scorer
Ronaldo on 15.
"Back then when I was a kid it was a dream to have such a
record, of scoring at every second Germany game I play. Even
just playing in the national team was a dream back then," he
said with a dry smile.
The soft-spoken Klose is lying in ninth place in the list of
Germany's most-capped players, behind such illustrious players
as Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Jurgen Klinsmann.
He has now won one more cap than captain Michael Ballack,
who missed the World Cup through injury.
On Germany's all-time scorers list he is in third place,
with Mueller on top with 68 goals.
He will most take his international appearances to 100 when
Germany face Argentina for a spot in the semi-finals.
"There is still a lot that is possible here and it would be
a mistake to start asking ourselves how far we can go," he said.
"But if we play the game like we played it today then we will go
far. We can apply it against any opponent."
After such a turnaround who would dare bet against him.
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