mario gomez – the most talented german striker

it had become a running gag. not only here in bremen, where i live, but basically everywhere in germany. playing football with your friends, someone has a perfect chance and misses the goal incredibely – and someone will shout his name. “mario gomez”, followed by some laughter. but how did this relatively young striker get to become the laughing stock of a nation?

young mario gomez

to find that out, one has to go back. quite a few years, actually. mario gomez emerged as another young talent from the greatest talent producing club of the decade, vfb stuttgart. many young players in many positions really started showing first promise playing for the team from south germany. phillipp lahm might be the most famous one; although he always belonged to bayern, it was during his loan at stuttgart that he became a bundesliga player and a national team player. kevin kuranyi is another example. he started his career at stuttgart and scored many goals for them. kuranyi left stuttgart for schalke 04 after three superb seasons, where he scored 39 goals in 94 matches. who would replace the german brazilian?

hopes were high for the young mario gomez. he was born in south germany, to a spanish father and german mother. when kuranyi left, gomez was still 19 and had only played a hand full of matches for his home club. the first season after kuranyi marked gomez’ rise into the main team. 30 matches and already six goals for the youngster showed promise. the season 2006-07 catapulted him to stardom, 14 goals in 25 matches and his debut for the german national team. he was surely the promise for the german attack, to finally replace aging miroslav klose. and he couldn’t have done better in the season right before euro 2008: he scored 19 goals in 25 matches, made the squad and started in the first match against austria.


gomez has often been frustrated when playing for germany...

that’s were the image began to appear. mario gomez managed to miss a certain goal in that match: 2 meter in front of the empty goal, he shot the ball over the bar towards the night sky. after that, he was so nervous that he didn’t get anything right in the match. germany won it, but gomez, still 22, lost his spot. and became the tragic figure of that team.

gomez went back to business for stuttgart, though. he had his best season to date, scoring a whopping 24 goals in 32 matches, much more than any other german player. but he spent that whole season without scoring even once for the german national team, and reporters started to pick on that. mario gomez had proven himself in the season after the tragedy in austria, but he still was very unlucky on international duty for germany. even his eight goals in ten international matches for stuttgart, with whom he won the german championship in 2007, didn’t seem to rid him from the tragic image. people were now trained to focus on the goals he missed, and not on the goals he scored.


the success in stuttgart continued, though...

this is why his move to bayern munich was blessing and risk at the same time. a blessing, because the 35 million euros payed from munich to stuttgart, the highest ever fee in the bundesliga’s history, showed his importance. if bayern wanted you and paid a record fee to get you, you must be good. and the numbers showed it: 82 matches from age 21-23, and 57 goals – in the bundesliga alone! for a young player, this is a spectacular record. and its reasons were easy to explain. mario gomez is an intelligent player, strong physically, solid technically. and he is rare in that his left shot is as good as his right shot, and that he is tall and a great header; so basically he can score goals from any situation, and that he did!

the risk was two-fold. would he be able to perform as well at the high pressure existing at bayern, much higher than in stuttgart – and with the price tag? and with a team tactic that wouldn’t be taylored for him, after the new coach louis van gaal declared that buying gomez wasn’t his idea. and when the dutchman arjen robben arrived, the change in tactics would really be to gomez’ expense. bayern would play a 4-3-3, which meant two things: only one central attackar (either klose, or luca toni at the time, or gomez), and two attacking wingers (robben & ribéry) who like to shoot on goal and not cross the ball to the center. tough times for gomez or klose? well, even under those circumstances, the young striker used his chances and scored a total of 10 goals in the first half of the season. he then was injured, and klose did a good job after that. since gomez is a horrible “joker” (never performing well when entering the match late), he almost lost his place in the 2010 world cup squad – and it was klose, even after a bad season, who started for the german national team, with great success.


things are going well for him now, at bayern...

gomez was the looser again. bad second half for bayern, bad joker at the world cup. his time was supposed to be there, and things looked even worse, since klose came back from the world cup as the starting attacker for bayern. mario gomez even though about joining liverpool and leaving munich, but he stayed, klose got injured, and then the following happened: 8 goals in 12 bundesliga matches, 6 goals in 5 matches at the champions league, and even 2 goals in the last 3 national team matches. spectacular numbers for a truly gifted striker.

by the way: that “mario gomez” jokes have vanished from the amateur football fields in germany.

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 22:35  Leave a Comment  
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