Behind the World Cup record: Miroslav Klose

The events that unfolded at Belo Horizonte’s Estadio Mineirao on 8 July 2014 were like no other in the history of the beautiful game. If it were a screenplay, it would have won an Oscar.

Decades from now, there will be football fans across the globe who can still remember exactly where they were on the evening Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. This remarkable, breathtaking encounter even broke new ground in the long and eventful history of the World Cup by becoming the highest semi-final defeat ever inflicted in the competition, earning the nickname Mineiraço [Shock of the Mineirao] among Brazilian fans.

The eventual champions’ journey to victory that evening began to gain momentum when Miroslav Klose scored his 16th World Cup goal to make it 2-0. In doing so, the striker surpassed the previous record held by Brazil’s Ronaldo, who was watching on from the stands, and added another important footnote to his country’s illustrious place in the history books. “It’s an outstanding achievement, I’m delighted for him,” Germany coach Joachim Low said after the match.

The player
The man nicknamed Miro began his professional career with Kaiserslautern 16 years ago and made his international debut just a year later. After making a name for himself with Die Roten Teufel, Klose won the DFB League Cup with Werder Bremen and ended the season as the Bundesliga’s top goalscorer before moving to Bayern Munich and collecting two German championship titles, two DFB Cups, a DFB League Cup and a DFB Supercup. In 2011, he signed for Lazio, where he added the Coppa Italia to his extensive collection of silverware.

The 38-year-old helped Germany to their fourth World Cup title at Brazil 2014, having previously finished as runner-up and second-highest goalscorer at Korea/Japan 2002. While he and his team-mates had to settle for third place on home turf four years later, Klose was awarded the adidas Golden Boot as tthe highest-scoring player at the tournament. He and Germany finished in third place once again in South Africa in 2010. The world-class striker also represented his country at UEFA EURO 2004, 2008 and 2012, even helping them to reach the final against Spain in 2008.

“Lifting the Trophy in Brazil was the fulfilment of a childhood dream for me. I cannot think of a better time to bring the international chapter of my career to a close.” In August 2014, Klose retired from international football with these words after winning 137 caps and scoring 71 goals for his country. He finally hung up his boots for good in November 2016.

The record
By scoring his 16th World Cup goal against A Seleção, Klose became the World Cup’s sole record goalscorer ahead of Ronaldo (15) and compatriot Gerd Muller (14). “There’s no question that it’s something very special for me,” the striker said after the match. “You don’t experience things like today very often and it’s not easy to put in a performance like that in a World Cup semi-final.”

Klose’s grand total of 19 goals at major international tournaments is a record for a European player [Gerd Muller scored 18 – editor’s note]. He played a total of 24 World Cup matches, a total that also places him near the top of the all-time tournament appearances list ahead of Paolo Maldini (23). Only fellow countryman Lothar Matthaus (25) has stepped onto the pitch at the world’s biggest football tournament more often – although when it comes to knockout matches, Klose’s total of 14 games places him ahead of both Matthaus and Cafu.

This popular figure has never been comfortable in the spotlight – but on that remarkable, record-breaking evening in July 2014, accompanied by goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke, he was the first to step back out onto the pitch to celebrate with the German fans. Counting down from five to one, he triggered a Mexican wave that travelled at least part of the way around the otherwise deserted Estadio Mineirao.

Even when making history, Klose’s unassuming manner never wavered when he paid tribute to the player whose tally he ultimately surpassed. “For me, Ronaldo is one of the best ever,” he said after equalling the record. The Brazilian was similarly gracious on Twitter, saying: “Welcome to the club, Klose. I can imagine how happy you must be right now.” Regardless of who scored the most goals, both men will always be great champions.

Klose stopped by the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich earlier in 2016 to relive his record-breaking tournament.

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