22 minutes into the World Cup semi-final against Brazil, Miroslav Klose was tied with Ronaldo as the all-time leading goal scorer at the World Cup.
23 minutes into the World Cup semi-final against Brazil and Miroslav Klose was standing alone atop a mountain.
Loitering off the shoulder of Maicon, Klose poised to strike as Toni Kroos drove at the penalty area. Thomas Müller tore across the defensive line as Kroos played the through ball, trailing Marcelo like a kite behind a seven-year-old at the beach. The Brazilian defense scattered as Müller tapped it back to Klose who hit if first time straight at Julio Cesar. The ball rebounded.
Klose did not miss with the second attempt.
A journey that started on the 1st of June 2002 in Sapporo, Japan with an 8-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia concluded on the 8th of July 2014 with a 7-1 thermonuclear annihilation of Brazil. 12 years and 37 days after putting the first one away, Miroslav Klose cemented his place in the pantheon of the world's greatest strikers at the age of 36.
While the magnitude of the accomplishment was buried under the avalanche of goals and earth shattering defeat that followed, we should strive to remember the accomplishment that seems so impressive when examined under the spotlight of history. Among the pantheon of World Cup goal scorers, Miroslav Klose goes down as the purest expression of a team player. While the likes of Ronaldo, Gerd Müller, and Just Fontaine will be remembered as the strikers who shone the brightest on the world's biggest stage, they'll still sit just behind the quietly understated work ethic, decade of underrated consistency, and team play of Miroslav Klose. And that makes his accomplishment the most impressive of all and the most deserving of the accolades that should be showered on one of the greatest goal scorers to ever don the German national team jersey.