The earliest memory I have of Mario Götze is when I was sat in front of my Xbox alongside a close friend desperately trying to negotiate a transfer for the 19-year-old on deadline day to my beloved Arsenal.
Now whilst this may only have been in the world of our FIFA 12 career mode it was an excruciating last few hours of deadline day. We eventually got the deal over the line for a fee of around £50 million which at the time would’ve been considered one of the biggest transfers of all time. The German wonderkid of course went on to become an Arsenal legend as he played just ahead of none other than Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky in what can only be described as an unstoppable midfield three.
This interest in Götze had all started when hearing rumours that he could possibly be linked with a move to Arsenal alongside his close teammate, Marco Reus whose story is one for another day. Götze was a young and exciting player whom I could only really catch a glimpse of through YouTube highlight clips and the Bundesliga Highlights show on Sunday Mornings on ITV4. The latter was much to my parents’ annoyance – they weren’t pleased at how long I would spend in front of our TV on a Sunday morning watching Match of the Day and the Bundesliga show consecutively. But at the age of about eight it was difficult for me to explain that I had to keep up with the Premier League as well as a 19-year-old German man who I’d read about in my 2011 MATCH Annual – a Christmas present they must’ve surely regretted gifting me by that point.
Much to my disappointment, Mario Götze never did make a move to the Emirates. However, a couple of years down the line he did complete a big money move to Bayern Munich, who in 2013 were the ultimate powerhouse of European football. At the time Götze was hotly tipped by most as one of the most exciting young footballers in the world who had the potential to become one of the greats.
His first season at the Allianz Arena was quite a success as he scored 10 and assisted 9 in 27 games – a stat which could’ve been even higher had Götze’s injury problems not been a recurring obstacle. Unfortunately for the youngster this would really be his best season in a Bayern shirt as several injury problems plagued the rest of his time in Munich, stopping him from ever really getting into his rhythm again.
Currently at the age of 29, Mario Götze is playing in the Dutch League with PSV Eindhoven. In his first season in Holland Götze scored 6 and assisted one in 18 games which is by no means lacklustre for an attacking midfielder but is certainly not what I or anyone in football would’ve predicted for the German back in 2010 when he broke into Borussia Dortmund’s first team, scoring 6 and assisting 15 as a teenager which really was an incredible feat.
Götze did make a brief return to Borussia Dortmund before his move to PSV, but he was never truly able to recapture his form of the past. He still however played a somewhat important role for Dortmund, showing glimpses of his former self with skilful dribbling, control and even sometimes goalscoring.
Whilst Götze’s career may have begun to stagnate after his first season at Bayern Munich – it didn’t stop him from still having a career-defining and magnificent moment that will be remembered by football fans for years to come. The 2014 World Cup was highlighted for Germany’s dominance in the tournament- in particular their shock 7-1 win over the host nation, Brazil. However, despite their superiority throughout the tournament – the final against Argentina was a hard-fought slog. Mario Götze didn’t start but was subbed on right before the game went to extra time after no goals had been scored after 90 minutes.
Sat in the same spot on my living room sofa that I had sat on when I first signed Mario Götze at Arsenal on my FIFA 12 video game, I watched on three years later as he made one of his classic runs into the penalty area while teammate André Schürrle darted down the left wing – neither of them with much more help from the rest of the German team who by this point were fatigued beyond belief. The clock ticked along in the 113th minute as Schürrle lifted the ball towards Götze who had ran to the left-hand side of the goal. It was here that Götze’s wondrous technical ability shined through. He majestically controlled the ball with his chest before volleying the ball with his weaker left foot past Sergio Romero in the Argentinian goal to win Germany their fourth World Cup 24 years after their last in 1990. Dubbed “Super Mario” as he wrote himself into German and world football folklore for the rest of time.
I sat there almost in disbelief at the time that Götze had not only become an icon in my mind through a fictitious career in North London but had also become a footballing icon in the real world just a few years later.
The magnificent talent of Mario Götze will be something that stays dear to my heart for a long time and already has done for about ten years since I first ever came across him. I also think that more people should take note of the calibre of player he truly is, regardless of what statistics or where he plays tells you.
And a final thanks to Mario Götze himself for always doing his best to play football in a beautiful and artistic way. Götze was more than a footballer; he was an artist.