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Miroslav Klose

Miroslav KloseMiroslav Klose — An honest pro who shuns the trappings of stardom, Miroslav Klose has always let actions speak louder than words. The kind of player who can remain quite for long periods but then suddenly explode onto the scene with a vital goal, Klose has an exceptional strike rate for his country, especially at FIFA World Cup finals.

The Bayern Munich striker, who turns 32 a couple of days ahead of the 2010 tournament, remains a minor mystery to many observers. One of the game’s late developers, Klose started out in senior football with lower league amateurs SG Blaubach/Diedelkopf, only to ascend the career ladder with amazing alacrity. Nowadays, he only has the legendary Gerd Muller and former GDR striker Joachim Streich ahead of him in the all-time Germany scoring chart. He finished on five goals at both the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan and the 2006 finals on home soil.

Klose can operate as a classic target man, specialising in dragging defences out of position. Acknowledged as a genuinely superb header of the ball, he boasts a classic poacher’s instinct on the big occasion, largely explaining his proud record at major tournaments. The one caveat is fitness, the player himself admitting to a need to be in perfect condition in order to play to his potential.

The striker was born in the Polish town of Opole, but arrived in Germany as an eight-year-old. He is comfortably the most experienced man in Germany’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad. Joachim Low will assuredly turn to Klose’s long record of service and stature in the dressing room this summer, despite the player’s relatively disappointing season for Bayern.

His career in the professional game began when he was 20 with a switch to the reserves at former Bundesliga outfit FC Homburg. Twelve months later, he moved to Kaiserslautern’s second-string team. His hard-working and prolific displays earned him promotion to the Bundesliga squad shortly afterwards. In the 2000/01 campaign, Klose finally achieved regular status with the Red Devils, and was snapped up by Werder Bremen in the summer of 2003.

He hit peak form in his third season with the north German giants, finishing as the league’s top scorer with 25 goals in just 26 Bundesliga appearances. He then joined the nation’s most successful club Munich in summer 2008, striking up a formidable partnership in the Bayern attack with Italy’s FIFA World Cup winner Luca Toni.

The 2006 German Player of the Year has remained a modest and retiring character, enjoying a respectful and unsullied reputation among German fans. Never a moaner when things fail to go his way, Klose’s response has always been to work harder and seek to fix deficiencies in his game. “I’m basically a relaxed and honest guy, but that can change in an instant out on the field. I can be very direct when I have to be, but most of the time, I try and sort things out man to man,” he told FIFA.com in late 2009.

Klose made his senior international debut in March 2001 in a 2-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying victory over Albania in Leverkusen, coming on fifteen minutes from the end and netting the crucial winning goal just two minutes from time. He has clocked up nearly 100 caps since then. He was a FIFA World Cup runner-up in 2002, came third in 2006, and was a UEFA EURO runner-up in 2008. He also claimed the adidas Golden Shoe as top scorer at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals. All he is missing is the most-prized trophy of them all, and 2010 may be the year that is rectified.

Klose was selected in Germany’s final 23-man squad, and for his third successive World Cup campaign. On 13 June, Klose scored the second against Australia in their opening group game, a 4-0 victory. The goal made him only four goals away from equaling the record number of goals scored in World Cup history, currently held by Ronaldo. Klose was given a red card in the 36th minute after receiving his second of two cautions in Germany’s second first-round game, against Serbia which they lost 1–0. Klose opened the scoring in the round of 16 match vs. England on 27 June 2010 with his 12th World Cup goal, equaling Pele for 4th on the all time list, and also notching up his 50th International goal in his 99th International game, Germany won the game 4–1.

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