“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
These words—the golden words—are written by greatly admired fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien in, perhaps, the book of the books i.e. “Lord of the Rings”.
These words will be used as an intro for this new series called “Not All Who Wander Are Lost: Lost And Found” which will bring you those gems in Football world, mainly Bundesliga, who had glitter and carried air of swagger in their hay-days and somewhere in the process they got lost in the mists of time and the dust of the past and then they came out of darkness to be crowned as the king again like they were reincarnated, hence “Lost and Found”.
In this first edition of this series, you will get to know about FC Bayern Munich striker, Mario Gomez. He is not what you think he is. If you watch him play in Allianz Arena or with Bayern Munich on travel then first impression that he will let you form about him is that: “He is a lazy Basterd!”
You get it wrong right there if you think like that.
Let’s unfold this “mystery book” and have a look in his past.
Born on the 10th of July 1985 in Upper Swabian village, South-West Germany, Mario Gomez is a son to Spaniard father and German mother. I can’t believe that he was born exactly after three months of my own debut in to this frantic yet beautiful world, but anyways. Brought up in Unlingen; Gomez holds both Spanish and German nationalities but opted to play for Germany, eventually, and this is not something new or odd in Germany.
He kicked off his youth career at tender age for the local SV Unlingen and started climbing the ranks with an aim and ambition to play for big sides when the right time comes and he didn’t have to wait any longer as the Swabian giants, VFB Stuttgart, put him in to their youth set-up when he was 16 in 2001.
He started playing for VFB Stuttgart II (take it as reserves) and initiated the debate and buzz of “new rising star” for all the right reasons. He spent two seasons there, polished his raw abilities, and scored 20 goals in over 40 games during that time.
Promoted to VFB Stuttgart in 2003, Gomez had to wait till the end of the season for his Bundesliga debut. Since the start of the 2004-05 season, Gomez had no way looking back as he kept shifting from VFB Stuttgart II and VFB Stuttgart and proving clinical as he hit 15 times the back of net in 25 matches for the teams.
Finally, it was in 2005 that he came out of the mists of time and was promoted to senior team permanently. He played his first full season that year making +30 appearances and scored 7 goals in that last stage of learning.
It was in 2006-07 that his sun arose high in the sky.
Gomez sparkled Bundesliga with his astonishing performances and proved a devil-driver behind Stuttgart’s chase of the title throughout the season, and the title is what they won that season as a team and Gomez was named “German Footballer of the Year”.
The next season, he wasn’t different and scored for fun finishing the season with 19 goals in 25 appearances but his goals didn’t help VFB Stuttgart in league standings this time as they finished dismal 6th and didn’t play up to the standards to what they had achieved the season earlier.
But there was no stopping for Mario Gomez as he got a call-up in German national team and he made an instant mark as he scored on his debut against Switzerland and claimed a brace in his Euro 2008 qualifier against San Marino which was his second appearance for German national team.
In his last season at VFB Stuttgart i.e. 2008-09, he attained a feat of scoring four goals in a match against VFL Wolfsburg—the team that won Bundesliga that season—and helped Stuttgart finishing third in the league. By that time, he had established himself as “Mr. Reliable”.
He was on fire, he was magnificent on the pitch, he was rightfully gaining all the accolades which came in his way, and everyone thought that this guy wasn’t stopping anytime sooner.
With great accolades and praise came an offer from Bavarian giants and he moved to Bayern Munich in May 2009 with jaw-dropping €30 Million Euros, which in my honest opinion was justified due to his age, his marvels at Stuttgart, and also as his contract ran through 2012 for Stuttgart that time.
“He Who Hesitates is Lost”
With all the glam-and-fame, and the sky at his feet; it looked like Mario Gomez was on his way of becoming one of the German greats and would carry on his performances in seamless thread. In fact, no one thought that he would end up as a “Lost Soul” as he had been since joining Bayern Munich.
What people had missed is that all the players—greats or not—do suffer from lack-of-form; that there is something called “out-of-form” in all the sport. Another thing that people do miss often is that some players revel in confidence i.e. confidence is their deadly weapon. If you lose it, you lose it all. If you gain it back then the world is yours. Mario Gomez is just that! He will give bring stars off the sky at your feet if you put confidence in him, more-like if he is brimming with confidence.
Lack of form and lack of confidence fell on Mario Gomez as if the sky had fallen flat on his shoulders which eventually affected his game-play. If you look (or remember) his Stuttgart days then he was fearless, he was insanely mobile, he scored from the headers, he rocketed the top of the net with his thunderbolt shots, and most of all; he had confidence.
No one had ever thought that “Mr. Reliable” would become like an example of a soldier who is fighting a “lost cause”.
Not only this affected his Bundesliga performances but also he became a nuisance on international stages for his national team as well which had his goal-drought overhaul for like ages.
It was apparently becoming evident that he had lost his fight and was ready to disappear in the fog of time as a “wonder-kid” who once showed lot of potential but never hit it with iron-fist. It was all set for him to be lost and gone forever in the darkened cave of despair and diffidence.
“From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
Nature has its way of “course-correcting”.
Sometimes, nature does that in strange ways that you are left with nothing but to cherish the feeling of being stuck in “either it’s a co-incidence or it was supposed to happen this way” kind of thing.
On 16th of October i.e. last month, Mario Gomez started the match with this thing in his mind:
“When I heard that there was a Mario Gomez among the men and that 33 of them were saved, I had a good feeling; I knew it wasn’t a coincidence.”
He scored hat-trick that day against Hannover and he was referring to 33 Chilean miners who were rescued, and 33 is the squad number he wears on his shirt.
Like previously stated, players like Mario Gomez play best when they are brimming with confidence. He has gained his confidence in may be some miraculous ways but that’s the way he rolls. Since then, he has been scoring for fun. He ended his international goal-draught as well and followed it with a Champions League hat-trick, too.
He is back on scoring ways. Yes, he has lost mobility that he had in Stuttgart days but the system that Bayern Munich is playing does not depend on the mobility as they play an intensive possession-game through midfield. Keeping mobility aside, what Mario Gomez never will lose his height. Only if, he begins to use his frightening height then there would be no doubt on why he wouldn’t score like in older days.
Another thing which played a damaging part in his constant dip of form was “bench role” and this role never fits well with those who are “Mr. Confidant” or in the case of Gomez, “Mr. Reliable”. You need to start the match with these kinds of men as they need to pick the pace of the game from the start so they can delve themselves with accordance to the pace of the game and don’t lose the rope of confidence.
With this story reaching at its end, you might be thinking that this is a story of player who started his career and is at the verge of retiring but Mario Gomez is still 25 years of age. He has a long way to go, a long way to tread. One thing which never will be, never should be said about him is that he wasn’t a player with ambitions.
For now, Mario Gomez has been “Lost and Found”.
“I’m a footballer because I enjoy it but you only enjoy it when you’re playing.” – Mario Gomez
“I hold it true, whatever befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”