In an article by TZ, Miroslav Klose outlines his history as a soccer player. From immigrating to Germany as a young boy, to winning the World Cup in 2014. His journey was not always easy, but he endured through the trials to become one of the best to ever play.
Miroslav Klose was born in Poland. At the age of eight his parents decided to move to Germany. At the time, Klose could barely say ja or nein. He remembers being scared as a little boy in a receptions camp in Friedland, a small town, southeast of Berlin. He remembers sleeping in a gym in bunk-beds and hearing foreign noises and people.
As Klose grew up, it wasn’t always clear to him, or those around him, whether he was going to have a career in soccer. When he was young, other kids in the neighborhood didn’t allow him to play with them. However, after a while, they saw that he had something special and wanted him to join them more often. As a 16-year old, Klose was studying to be a carpenter. He passed his final exam with 99 out of 100 and became a Journeyman.
He worked as a Journeyman while also playing for his first club, SG Blaubach-Diedelkopf. After doing both for a few months, Klose was transferred. This is when he gave up carpentry and chose soccer. He said,
After a few months as a Journeyman I was transferred to Homburg and from then on it was just soccer.
Before landing at Bayern Munich, Klose also played in the Bundesliga at 1. FC Kaiserslautern and Werder Bremen. He also rose to the ranks of the German National Team, making his first World Cup appearance in 2002 at 24-years old. He quickly realized that he needed to do something to stay at the top of his game. Of this time, Klose said,
To get to the top is hard. To stay at the top is much harder. I had to establish myself. I had to be strict with myself: no alcohol, no clubs, go to bed early.
In 2007, Klose was sold to Bayern from Bremen and signed a four-year contract. He arrived at the same time as Franck Ribery and Luca Toni. The three newcomers stayed in a hotel for a few months together. With three players all speaking different languages and coming from different cultures, the three athletes had a hard time deciding simple things about when to eat and where to sit. Klose said,
A Frenchman, an Italian, and a German. We were only able to communicate with our hands and feet. [...] I wanted to go [to eat] as early as possible, Franck only after eight, and Luca much later. I wanted to sit at the edge of the restaurant, and Luca always wanted to in the middle [of the restaurant].
In his first year in Munich, Bayern won the double and Klose scored 21 goals in all competitions. This success came for two seasons, until Luis van Gaal took over at Bayern. He was not fond of Klose and Klose knew it. The Dutch coach also found a disliking for Luca Toni. Klose tells of a time where van Gaal pulled Luca by the ear and yelled at him in front of the team, all because he was late from team-breakfast.
Klose saw his playing time decrease with Bayern under van Gaal, even though he was still very successful with die Mannschaft. Klose used this as his outlet for his frustrations. He said,
In the international games, I scored. In the white jersey. The national team was my actual team.
Although van Gaal was also on his way out, Klose couldn’t come to terms with Bayern after his four year deal ended. After scoring only one goal in his last Bundesliga season, Klose left for Lazio in Rome. There he was finally played and loved by the fans. After beating Lazio’s rival, AS Roma, in the Copa Italia final in 2013, a delivery man kissed Klose’s feet while delivering a package.
One year later, Klose won the World Cup with Germany and scored two goals, which made him the men’s all-time leader in goals scored at a World Cup. About his experience at this World Cup, Klose said,
It didn’t feel like a victory at first, but instead like a burden had fallen off of me. I was thankful. I have invested a lot over the years, and I have often fallen flat on my face. Finally, I had something tangible in my hand.
Klose retired from international soccer immediately after the 2014 World Cup. He played two more seasons for Lazio before retiring as player. He now coaches the Bayern Munich U17 team, after turning down an offer to coach the U19s.
Klose still holds many records from his time with the German National team, including most goals at a World Cup (16), Germany’s all-time leading scorer(71), most consecutive World Cup medals (4), and most consecutive World Cup semi-finals (4). He is also only one of three players to score five or more goals in one World Cup, one of the others being teammate, Thomas Muller. Klose will go down in the history books as one of the German greats. It is just too bad that his time at Bayern couldn’t have gone better.