“Err….hmm….obviously….naturally..” those are the words one is bound to hear in a typical Miroslav Klose interview. Ever the shy personality, a quality that never changed from childhood. Born on 9 June 1978 in the Silesian city of Opole, Poland, to Josef and Barbara Kloze, Miroslav Klose is one of German football’s most successful footballers ever to graze the pitch. With 100 plus caps and Bundesliga goals to his name, one can barely argue to his credentials of being one of the the most prolific strikers in the footballing world.
Little did young Klose know about how his life would change when his parents moved from their native Poland, fleeing the Communist rule, to France and finally Germany, settling in a small town near Kaiserslautern. As a child Klose was a very softspoken and shy, many blame this cause of his lack of knowledge of the German language during his childhood. so shy that he would rarely mix around or speak. No different from now is it? When Klose was 19 years old, he was training to be a carpenter and playing amateur football for a club called SG Blaubach-Diedelkopf in the seventh division. A late bloomer, one might say. But as early as 20 years old, Klose was playing for a bigger club, Homburg, but only for its second team and the fifth division. At 21, he finally played for the club he used to support from the stands,Kaiserslautern. But again Klose was put into the reserve side, known as the ‘amateur team’ ,which competed in the third division along side the reserve squads of some of Germany’s biggest clubs. Klose continued his job as a carpenter, until the age of 22 and when his childhood dream came true he made it into the first team of Kaiserslautern. In his first 67 matches, Klose scored 33 goals. A few more consistent goal scoring performances and finally Rudi Voeller and the German National team came calling to his doorstep. A time when the old German team were looking for some fresh blood.
It was the 88th minute of the World Cup qualifier, the opponents were Albania, the score still 1-1. Miroslav Klose came on as a substitute and scored the winner on his debut appearance for his adopted country. And from then on the world finally got accustomed to his trade mark somersault, which interestingly also has a story about it. During Miro’s youth days he had a team-mate , Micheal Awe , who went airborne every time he scored, ” He knew I couldn’t do that, so he kept taunting me about it, I bet him 20 marks that if I would ever play professionally, I would celebrate it with a somersault.” And Klose’s finally made it big, he not only pocketed his 20 marks but also went on to be nicknamed ‘Salto- Klose’ by the German media for his this traditional celebration.
His decision to choose Germany over Poland proved to be a boon as he went on to become one of the world’s top scoring players in a Die Mannschaft jersey. After a successful World Cup in 2002, he transferred to Werder Bremen in 2004, but not by his own consent. Kaiserlautern had taken a loan for the club’s financial stability and when the time came to repay it, they had no other choice but to sell their star player. ” We had to sell him because of the 5 million euros loan we had taken. Its also important for him for his development to move to the next step to become a world class striker”, Rene Jaggi the chairman of Kaiserslautern recalled. The mighty Bayern Munich had their eyes fixed on Klose ever since the end of the World Cup, however a disappointing 2003-04 season for Klose cooled off all interest. And so on 2 March 2004, Klose signed a four–year contract with German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen for a fee of €5 million ($6,2 million).
His days at Bremen transformed him into one of the world’s most feared strikers. The 2005-06 season turned out to be his best ever, finishing as the top scorer of the Bundesliga as well as the WC ’06 and winning the German Footballer of the Year award followed by the Golden boot. During a match in his Werder Bremen days, an opposition goal keeper had apparently seemed to have fauled Klose inside the box. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, however a modest Klose went to the ref to tell him that the decision was wrong and to cancel the penelty given. How honest could a player be?
After a marvelous World Cup in 2006, suitor came aplenty as Barcelona and Juventus lined up to sign him. Klose was also linked with a move to German giants Bayern Munich and in June 2007, Klose confirmed that he was Bayern Munich bound. One could argue about his poor form at Bayern, but if you look at the wider aspect, Klose continued to have a huge workrate for Bayern just as his previous clubs. Even in his first season at Bayern, Klose was pretty good, although it was Luca Toni who took the limelight, or Frank Ribery for his circus acts, it was Klose behind the scenes creating assists as well as helping back in defence when needed. Under Jurgen Klinsmann’s regime, it was only Klose who was the most in-form player for Bayern. He was even the Champions League’s top scorer until he met with a season ending injury during a Bundesliga match against Bochum. Infact if Bayern even managed to secure a Champions League spot that season, they owed it to Klose whose goals against Karlsruhe , Dortmund etc were vital for Bayern’s qualification. Although his goal scoring stint suffered drastically on the club level under Luis Van Gaal ,his international form never died out. He proved his critics wrong time and time again when he sported the 3stars of the German jersey. This form continued in Euro08 and WC10 finishing as the worldcups second highest goalscorer of all time, finishing 7 from his head and 7 from his feet.
Despite age catching up with him, Klose’s work rate never diminished. It’s true he may never emulate the club form he once had, but that never puts his place in the starting 11 of Germany in doubt. An enigma on and off the field, Miroslav Klose is a role model for many to follow. From working as a carpenter, to becoming an elite amongst the ranks of Muller, Voeller etc, Miroslav Klose will go down in the German and world history books as one of the greatest ever players to sport the three stars of the German jersey.