Miroslav Klose turned 36 this month, but judging by his somersault in Fortaleza Saturday, the Germany striker came to the 2014 World Cup with as much energy as he took to South Korea and Japan in 2002, when he made his debut at world football’s most prestigious competition.
With Die Mannschaft trailing 2-1 to Ghana at Estadio Castelao, the Lazio striker was introduced as a 69th-minute substitute for Mario Gotze—a gamble by manager Joachim Low that paid almost immediate dividends.
Just two minutes after his introduction, Klose poked the ball into the back of the net at the near post after Benedikt Howedes got a touch on Toni Kroos’ corner. It ultimately proved the equaliser of a frenetically entertaining contest, and after watching the ball go in, Klose took to the air for one of his trademark flips.
“I don’t know how long it’s been since I did a somersault,” he told Reuters after the match. “But at least it worked out.”
Never one for many words, Klose had more than just the goal—and the split of the points against a Group G rival that it earned—to celebrate on Saturday.
15 - Miroslav Klose has equalled Ronaldo's record of 15 goals at World Cup finals. Legends. pic.twitter.com/nkKZQnJr2Y— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 21, 2014
The tally was his 15th World Cup goal and took him level with all-time record-holder Ronaldo. It also represented the fourth World Cup in which he’s scored—something only Pele and Uwe Seeler had done previously.
In other words, Klose’s finish against Ghana puts him in some rather rarefied air.
Klose on equalling Ronaldo's record 15 gls "Doesn’t matter whether I start or not: All games are important & 15 gls in 20 WC gms isn’t bad"— DFB_reporter (@rylandjames) June 21, 2014
Granted, even in his younger days, the Poland-born forward had nothing of Ronaldo’s athletic ability, and the 5'7" Seeler was famous for scoring spectacular goals. Pele, meanwhile, scored only three fewer World Cup goals but won the trophy on three occasions.
But what has set Klose apart from his contemporaries is longevity. While considerably more famous players have enjoyed brief bursts of form on the international stage, he has sustained a purple patch that is now in its 12th year.
Asamoah Gyan has equalled Roger Milla's record for most goals scored (5) by an African player in World Cup history. pic.twitter.com/hn41Xb3EdI— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 21, 2014
Incidentally, Saturday’s match also saw Ghana forward Asamoah Gyan score his fifth World Cup goal and pull into a share of first place on the all-time African list with former Cameroon striker Roger Milla.
Gyan, who was part of the Black Stars’ 2006 squad, has now scored in three World Cups. The Ghanian striker will lead his squad against Portugal on June 26.