Bayern Munich Forward Thomas Mueller's Top 6 Germany Moments
Nobody plays football quite like Thomas Mueller. From his gangly posture, his irregular touch on the ball to his old-fashioned celebration of simple euphoria with every goal, Germany's Raumdeuter—or 'interpreter of space'—may only be 24 years old, but he is undoubtedly one of their most important players.
A star in his own right for Bayern Munich and Joachim Loew's formidable Die Mannschaft, Mueller approaches this coming World Cup in Brazil like a breath of fresh air and optimism.
What makes the young forward so valuable to club and country is his unpredictability. Where the likes of Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and even Manuel Neuer may provide little else besides their flickering brilliance, Mueller has a gift to always show up at the right place in the right time to drag Germany onwards and upwards.
Here are his top six moments in a Germany top.
Goal vs Australia: 2010 World Cup Group Stage
We kick things off in the summer of 2010, where we find our young champion starting for Germany in his first-ever World Cup game against Australia.
The Bayern forward had only recently broken into the German first team that season, and actually almost missed the cut after a minor bicycle accident prior to the tournament. Yet, here he stood, in the famous number 13 shirt—formerly belonging to Michael Ballack and Gerd Muller before him—at the raw age of 20.
Of course, the Bundesliga and Champions League winner-to-be wasted little time in this opening clash, scoring Germany's first goal with an exquisite cutback and precise finish. Germany won 3-0, and Mueller kicked off his international career with a bang.
Watch Mueller's goal against Australia here.
Goal vs England: 2010 World Cup Round of 16
Our next moment of brilliance from the Bayern boy wonder comes against none other than Fabio Capello's England side in the 2010 World Cup Round of 16.
England gave a good account of themselves prior to this heavyweight showdown and continued in such a fashion, when they pulled a goal back after going 2-0 down to Germany early in the game.
A notable change in momentum had overcome the match, following Matt Upson's opening goal for England and—when Frank Lampard's shot smacked off the crossbar and was incorrectly ruled out for not crossing Neuer's line—it was clear that Germany looked like they were on the ropes.
Then came Mueller, with arguably the most important goal of the competition for Germany, when a counter-attack found the wide-forward on the right-hand side of David James' box with the ball at his feet.
In a single movement, the young midfielder opened his body and struck the ball towards goal, amongst the pursuit of desperate England defenders and past James in goal. Mueller had thwarted the England comeback, and Germany were through to the next round.
Watch Mueller's goal against England here
Goal vs Holland: International Friendly
In one of the fiercest rivalries in international football, Germany took on Holland in a friendly match—only in name—with the intention of testing themselves against genuine competition ahead of the Euros the following summer.
By this point, Mueller was already a mainstay in Loew's national team setup and, as such, started the game on the right hand side of attack, with Miroslav Klose playing as the sole striker.
Yet it took only 15 minutes to dump misery on the travelling Oranje fans, as a floated cross from Toni Kroos on the left wing found Klose at the back post. With a simple touch, the towering striker knocked the ball back into the six-yard box where he found Mueller galloping at full stride and ready to knock the ball home for the first goal.
Germany would win the game by three goals to nil before facing Holland again in the Euro group stages eight months later. A victory of more importance that undoubtedly took confidence from this result and Mueller's goal.
Watch Mueller's opening goal here
Goal vs Argentina: 2010 World Cup Quarter Final
Next up for Germany in their 2010 World Cup campaign was Lionel Messi's Argentina who, under the guidance of Diego Maradona, made formidable Quarter Final opponents.
At least that's what was to be expected before Loew's side had a chance to test their strength against the South American pretenders.
In what would come to be one of the biggest upsets of the competition that year, Germany romped to a 4-0 win over Maradona's side, coasting to a semi final spot against Spain thanks to a wonderful opening goal from Mueller.
In only the third minute of the game, it was a set-piece from German vice-captain Schweinsteiger that found the Bayern forward leaping above all others to knock home the first goal of the game and Mueller's fourth of the competition.
Watch Mueller's goal against Argentina here
Goal vs Uruguay: 2010 World Cup Third Place Playoff
As fate would have it, our goal-scoring prodigy would miss Germany's semi-final clash with Spain following a yellow card in the previous round against Argentina. The penalty left the Bayern forward all but helpless to act, as he watched his country bow out of the tournament once again one game too soon.
In a fitting act of repentance, Mueller was once again leading the line for Germany in their third place playoff against Uruguay. He scored the opening goal of an incredible tight and well-fought encounter.
With nothing between two sides that had hoped to go all the way in this competition, Mueller broke the deadlock in the 18th minute when a Schweinsteiger shot forced the Uruguayan keeper, Fernando Muslera, to fumble the ball to which Mueller duly pounced and knocked home.
It was not the most spectacular goal that the German international would ever score, but one that showcased his immense ability to poach the goalmouth like any experienced striker. A forward with every skill in the book, Mueller has never faltered in the limelight for his country that summer.
Watch Mueller's opening goal against Uruguay here.
Goal vs France: International Friendly
Our final moment of Mueller brilliance comes in no more than a showcase international friendly against France in the Stade de France, Paris last February.
Although this goal and match as a whole will always pale in comparison to some of the magical moments Mueller has created in international competitions throughout his career, it was this game that allowed the Bayern forward to once again show us just how clinical he can be in front of goal.
France had initially taken the lead against the backdrop of constant moans and groans from German fans who wished for the national team of 2010, yet an equaliser was at hand early in the second half when Ilkay Gundogan played our star forward through to net Germany's first goal of the game.
It's only once we slow the play down that we see just how well the prolific striker managed to lift the ball over the oncoming Hugo Lloris and diving Mamadou Sakho and into the back of the French net. Yet another game-changing goal from Mueller and a perfect example of why he is already one of Germany's most important players this summer.
Watch Mueller's goal against France here