- 1 Bundesliga winners medal
- 1 German Cup winners medal
- 1 Champions League runners-up medal
- 52 games, 19 goals in first full season
- 4 World Cup goals
- 7 international appearances, all in the World Cup
- 1 season to remember
In February 2009, Thomas Müller (Mueller) signed a professional contract with German giants Bayern Munich along with fellow academy graduate Holger Badstuber, after impressing in the reserve side of the third tier of German football. Who knew fourteen months later that both would be on course to an historic World Cup final in a German side not quite like we’ve seen before? Looking back on the World Cup this summer, a number of German players have deservedly attracted praise from fans; Bastian Schweinsteiger for his masterful midfield performances, worthy of a Player of the Tournament mention, Mesut Oezil for his phenomenal attacking play in creating and scoring goals in his debut World Cup, and likewise for Mueller – Germany’s top scorer in South Africa, from the right of midfield.
“Mueller” is of course a familiar name within German sport. The most prolific German striker in the nation’s history (throughout all regions) was none other than Gerd Mueller; a man who is the eight highest international goalscorer of all time (68 goals in 62 games for West Germany). Like his namesake, Thomas made his German debut at a very young age, and is already on course to be as prolific as Gerd in the international competition. Gerd’s national career came to a premature end having only played in two World Cups. If Thomas’ career goes smoothly he may be on course to a prolific life in the world’s biggest competition – similar to another German of recent histroy, Miroslav Klose.
Gerd scored an amazing ten goals in the 1970 World Cup, finishing his career with fourteen goals in the finals altogether – becoming the highest World Cup goalscorer in history – before it was broken by Brazil’s Ronaldo, ironically, in Germany in 2006. That record has been equalled this summer, again coincidentally, by German forward Klose. Some big coincidences, but could Thomas be on the way to a similar feat?
Gerd scored his final World Cup (and international) goal in the 1974 final – the winning goal in fact – against the Netherlands. That could well be repeated by Thomas this summer, in the exact same fixture.
A big name to live up to, but after a debut season to remember under Louis van Gaal at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Mueller is making giant leaps to stardom. The Dutch coach showed obvious faith in Mueller from the very beginning, starting him at first as a regular substitute. His name came into prominence in September, where he scored a brace against Borrusia Dortmund before scoring two more in the Champions League against Maccabi Haifa, rounding off the month by being named the Bundesliga’s Player of the Month. In the same month, he attracted praise from Gerd himself.
Unfortunately my prediction is simply because I see Mueller as being the person who will become my successor one day.
Mueller is a bit like myself when I was still playing, He is an excellent player and is valuable to the team. Along with that, he is a decent person who was already in the first team at Bayern at the age of 18 years.
– Gerd Mueller, speaking before the Argentina game
Mueller went on to play in each and every remaining game, all but the return game against Bordeaux in the Champions League group stage after getting sent off in the first tie. He played in every DFB-Pokal Cup winning game, as well as each Champions League knock-out tie.
Some who have witnessed the phenomenal German side this summer may believe Mueller is an established right sided player, but he spent nearly all of the last year’s campaign leading the line up front for Munich. He is more than happy to play in a range positions – up front, behind the striker or on either wing. The wide areas for Bayern were, after all, occupied by Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. His performances in the striker role kept Mario Gomez’s appearances in the side to a minimum, who had just signed for a league record €30million fee from Stuttgart. Miroslav Klose, meanwhile, played thirty-eight games – scoring just six goals. It’s no surprise, then, that Gomez has been limited to just three substitute appearances this summer, yet to fulfil his bloated transfer fee for club or country.
In February he penned an improved contract, keeping him at the club until 2013. He went on to score a hat-trick in the penultimate game of the season which effectively sealed Bayern’s league success, before helping the side to a victory over Werder Bremen in the DFB-Pokal Final, a competition in which Mueller was top scorer with four goals, plus notching two assists.
To express the cliché, “the future’s bright” for Thomas Mueller. An established German footballer and World Cup goalscorer at twenty-years of age, with a couple of domestic medals already under his belt, not to mention a Champions League final appearance. The world is at his feet, and it’s onwards and upwards for both Bayern Munich, the German national team, and this young man from Bavaria.