Name: Thomas Muller Born: September 13, 1989, in Weilheim, Germany Position: Attacking midfielder/forward Pro club: Bayern Munich
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Why is he in the news?
Muller, a 24-year-old attacking threat and winner of the 2010 World Cup Golden Boot in South Africa, is in contention to claim the honour again in Brazil, scoring four times in only three games.
And his team needed all they could get from him: Drawn into Group G—the Group of Death—Germany had to finish ahead of at least two of Portugal, Ghana, and the United States. Thanks in large part to Muller, they went undefeated, reaching the top of their group.
Muller started the tournament with a hat trick in Germany’s first game—a 4–0 thrashing of Portugal. Unable to score in Germany’s 2–2 draw against Ghana, he emerged with a bloodied face, requiring five stitches near his right eye courtesy of a collision with John Boye. Fans worried he might not be able to play against the U.S., but Muller announced via Twitter that despite looking like a boxer, he was fine. He proved that to be the case, scoring the only goal in the Germany–U.S. game, at the 55th minute.
And the scary part (for non-Germans): Since Muller is so young, he hasn’t even come close to hitting his prime yet. With nine goals in nine World Cup games, chances are he’ll one day become the tournament’s all-time leading scorer—a record currently held by Ronaldo (of Brazil) and German teammate Miroslav Klose with 15 goals.
He’s special because
Muller can play pretty much anywhere across the midfield or in attack. He’s the kind of player who can both score (he averages more than 10 goals per season for Bayern Munich) and create goals—he finished tied for third in the Bundesliga last season with 10 assists, and was the joint leader for most assists at the 2010 World Cup (with three).
Muller entered the Bayern Munich system when he was 10 years old. He made his Champions League debut in March 2009, after signing a two-year contract with the senior team. He’s now under contract with Bayern until 2019.
In five years with the Bavarian outfit, Muller already has a Champions League title, three Bundesliga titles and three German Cups.
Muller steps up his (already very good) game for the national team. In his first World Cup match, against Australia in 2010, he scored his first international goal. Muller played in all of Germany’s group games, helping the team to reach the top of Group D. He would score four more times in the tournament and was named Best Young Player of the 2010 World Cup.
His most famous moment
After Miroslav Klose scored the opener in Germany’s round of 16 match against England at the World Cup in 2010, Muller took over. He earned an assist on Germany’s second goal—which turned out to be the winner—and scored two goals of his own to definitively extinguish England’s World Cup hopes. Muller’s performance probably still haunts the nightmares of Three Lions fans.
Here’s an interesting fact
After a friendly against Argentina in 2010, Diego Maradona mistook Muller for a ball boy. Months later in a World Cup quarterfinal match, Muller scored first as Germany went on to defeat Argentina 4–0. Muller noted afterward, “I don’t think that he thinks I am a ball boy anymore.”
He said it
“I’d like to see it [on] TV. I only hope that I looked okay. I felt a blow from his fist. But what happened after that I can’t really remember, whether we were head-to-head or not. I just hope it didn’t look stupid on TV.” —Muller, on the head-butt incident that earned Portugal’s Pepe a red card.
What they’re saying about him
“I am certain that Thomas Muller will eventually get the World Cup goal record, as he still has two or three more World Cups in him…. I hope he retains the Golden Boot and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for him.” —Gerd Muller, a.k.a. “Der Bomber,” legendary German striker