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Every now and then in football there are matches that appear to follow a script penned by a Hollywood screenwriter with a flair for the dramatic. Germany’s fixture with Ghana was one such occasion. With the former 2-1 down, the Europeans needed to inject greater urgency into their play in order to avoid defeat in their second group match, a fate they had suffered at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Right on cue, on came 36-year-old Miroslav Klose as a 69th-minute substitute to hit the equaliser with his first touch of the ball.
As important as the strike was in securing Germany a point, it also ensured the forward a place in tournament history. Klose has now scored 15 World Cup, level with Ronaldo as the tournament's all-time leading marksmen. As if that were not enough, the fact that he did so in the Brazilian's own country added an extra twist to the tale: after all, Ronaldo had set the record at the 2006 finals in Germany. That both strikers scored their historic efforts against Ghana seems almost too symmetrical to be true.
The spotlight may have inevitably been trained on Klose after the match on a sweltering evening at Fortaleza’s Estadio Castelao, but the Germany No11 remained characteristically down to earth. “Of course it’s something very special for me, there’s no doubt about that,” he told FIFA.com, grinning. “But the most important thing is that I was able to help my team.”
Klose, whose goal also made him only the second German after Uwe Seeler to score at four different World Cups, has never been a man of many words and was happy to allow Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff, himself a former top-class striker, to explain further.
“Inside he’s incredibly happy,” he said in an interview with FIFA.com. “You could see that by the way he celebrated the goal. It was also an important one for us, which makes the whole thing that much nicer.”
Klose’s goal celebration, a forward flip, used to be his trademark in his earlier career but has become increasingly rare of late. That he failed to make a full 360 degree turn - and also lost his balance somewhat upon landing - did little to take the shine off the moment. “You can tell that I’m getting older,” Klose told FIFA.com with a wink.
Asked as to which of his 15 tournament goals, chalked up at finals in Korea and Japan, Germany, South Africa and now in Brazil, he considers to have been most important, Klose did not hesitate: “I think it’d have to be the equaliser against Argentina in the quarter-finals in 2006 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. It meant we went to penalties, which we then won.”
However, he did not rule out the possibility of topping even that effort at Brazil 2014.
Even in his hour of glory, Klose, who is behind only Lothar Matthaus as Germany’s most-capped player, was keen to pay tribute to the man whose goalscoring record he had just equalled: “For me Ronaldo is one of the best ever”.
En route to Fortaleza airport after the encounter, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that one of Klose’s younger colleagues on the team bus drew his attention to a message from Ronaldo on Twitter: “Welcome to the club, Klose. I can imagine how happy you must be right now. What a great World Cup!”