Where Miroslav Klose Ranks Among Germany's Greatest Forwards
Miroslav Klose scored his way into the history books this weekend with a late goal against Ghana to not only earn his side a point but also collect his 15th World Cup goal to equal Ronaldo's record.
Although Germany may have stumbled in their quest to finish top of Group G, it was a night that the Lazio striker will remember fondly for the rest of his life.
What many now must be wondering is where Klose ranks among the best strikers that Germany have produced over their long and prosperous World Cup history. He may not be a first-team starter for Joachim Low these days, but history will undoubtedly remember Klose as one of Germany's greatest ever forwards.
To decipher this, we had to take the obvious attributes of World Cup goals into account when contrasting one striker from the next, but other factors such as the importance of certain goals and trophies won with the national team were also taken into account.
Here is how Klose lines up against die Mannschaft's greats.
5. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
World Cup goals: 9
We kick off this list with the exceptional Bayern Munich forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who represented the German national team at three World Cups between 1978 and 1986.
Although the side won the European Championships in 1980, this period was actually rather unsuccessful for Germany, despite Rummenigge's nine goals in three World Cup tournaments.
Unfortunately for the Bayern forward, his time for Germany came between two of their greatest successes—the 1974 and 1990 World Cups.
One half of "FC Breitnigge"—a nickname given to Bayern during the reign and dominance of Rummenigge and team-mate Paul Breitner—the striker will always be remembered for his goal in the 1986 World Cup final, if not for failing to ever lift the trophy.
Alas, his record for die Mannschaft stands tall for all to see.
4. Jurgen Klinsmann
World Cup Goals: 11
Jurgen Klinsmann may only be fourth in our list today, but the current USA coach is undoubtedly one of the most prolific strikers that Germany has ever seen and arguably the greatest in the country's modern history.
Despite scoring 47 goals in 108 caps for Germany—a goal tally bettered only by two German internationals—the 1990 World Cup will forever be remembered as his greatest gift to his national team.
One game in particular, the last 16 clash with rivals Holland, offered the best example of his brilliance; the then-Internazionale striker scored the only goal of the game despite watching his side go down to 10 men.
Germany would go on to win that World Cup, with Klinsmann's three goals playing no small part on the road to success.
Klinsmann was also the first player to ever score in three World Cups, following subsequent tournament success for the reunified German side in 1994 and 1998, where he added to his total and now stands as Germany's third-highest goalscorer in World Cup history.
A true great of the modern, reunified German era.
3. Miroslav Klose
World Cup goals: 15
Although the current target man of this German World Cup side has overcome all others in terms of World Cup goals, Miroslav Klose falls just short of the top spot through some unfortunate setbacks.
Despite all his goals, few would argue that Klose is a better player than Klinsmann or Rummenigge. Yes, he has an unparalleled ability to find space in the box and score goals. Yet, in terms of what he adds to a side, he doesn't quite compare to other, more lavish German forwards of the past.
Another blemish in the former Bayern striker's record for Germany is a lack of silverware at international level. Although this isn't entirely down to Klose himself, it does have to be factored in when we consider some strikers in Germany's past who have won finals single-handedly.
Regardless, Klose will always be remembered as a German great. One factor that is often overlooked is that Germany have never lost a competitive game in which the Polish-born striker had scored.
One of Germany's best, but unless he can pick up the World Cup trophy in Rio in a few weeks time, he'll always be remembered as a nearly man for the national team.
2. Helmut Rahn
World Cup Goals: 10
If you were to venture down to Georg-Melches-Stadium in Essen, just outside of Dortmund, you would find a statue dedicated to one of Germany's greatest ever forwards: Helmut Rahn.
Affectionately known as "Der Boss" and "the cannon from Ennen," Rahn played in just two World Cups for West Germany yet still managed to score 10 goals.
Most will know of Germany's surprise win over Hungary in the 1954 World Cup final—known in Germany as "Wunder von Bern", or "the Miracle of Bern"—but few will know that it was Rahn who assisted his side's first goal and scored the second.
Pulling Germany level almost single-handedly after going 2-0 down, Rahn was also responsible for that famous third goal just before full-time. His desperate attempt on his weaker left foot broke the deadlock and confirmed the first-ever World Cup trophy for war-torn Germany.
Not only one of Germany's most prolific strikers, but arguably their most important ever. A hero well regarded not only within the sport but across German culture as a whole.
1. Gerd Mueller
World Cup Goals: 14
In Germany, the definition of a striker often comes down to just two words: Gerd Mueller. A truly prolific and unrivalled goalscorer at Bayern throughout the 1970s, "Der Bomber" also scored a bucket load for die Mannschaft across the 1970 and 1974 World Cups.
Purists will argue that he amassed a record-breaking total, unrivalled until Ronaldo in 2006, in just two tournaments—rather than three or four like the aforementioned Brazilian and Klose—and that the World Cup had fewer games back then. Regardless, his status as Germany's greatest ever striker is well and truly intact.
With 68 goals in 62 international games for Germany, Mueller burst onto the scene in 1970 with no fewer than 10 goals in the competition. His side would finish just third in Mexico that year, but the striker was far from done with the tournament.
Four years later, West Germany welcomed the world as they held the international tournament, where they eventually met Netherlands in the final. Mueller scored three goals on the way to Berlin before going on to snatch the winning goal in a 2-1 win. Die Mannscaft had their first World Cup trophy in 20 years and it was almost entirely down to this special forward.
A striker who not only outscored all before him at the time, but also one that stepped up in the big games for his national team. A goalscorer that history remembers with equal measures of fondness and respect.
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