8 July 2014 23:11
Being in the right place at the right time is a trait that Miroslav Klose has forged an entire career around.
So it was fitting that the clinical Germany forward became the leading scorer in FIFA World Cup history on Tuesday with an instinctive finish at the end of an incisive move against tournament hosts Brazil in the semi-finals.
Klose’s first-half strike took his tally to 16 goals in World Cup finals and ensured he surpassed legendary former Brazil striker Ronaldo’s total of 15.
The Lazio veteran, who is also the leading all-time goalscorer for his country, is in the twilight of his career at the age of 36, but has not lost his predatory streak in the final third.
And, above all, he has proved he can still cut it on the biggest stage of all.
Ronaldo joked that he hoped a curse would be placed upon Klose in the tournament in his homeland, but the 2014 showpiece spelled the end of the three-time World Player of the Year’s record.
It is 12 years since Klose marked his first appearance in a World Cup by scoring a hat-trick in an 8-0 thrashing over Saudi Arabia and the Poland-born striker has never looked back.
His was on target on a further two occasions in that tournament in Japan and Korea as Germany went all the way to the final before being beaten 2-0 by Brazil – for whom Ronaldo scored twice.
Klose proved he was no flash in the pan as he won the Golden Boot by scoring five times on home soil in the 2006 showpiece and added another four in South Africa four years ago to move just one adrift of Ronaldo.
He surpassed the iconic Gerd Muller to become Germany’s overall all-time leading marksman in his nation’s pre-tournament rout of Albania, before then overtaking Muller and drawing level with Ronaldo in World Cup finals goals by coming off the bench to equalise against Ghana with his first touch after just two minutes.
And Klose immediately set his sights on improving on that tally in what will almost certainly be his last World Cup.
“I don’t like speaking about records, but anyone who knows me knows that this is an important goal of mine,” he said.
“The team will always comes first but I realise it would be special.
“The record is something that keeps me going at this level – it would mean the world to me.”
Now that Klose has achieved that objective, he will be determined to sign off in style by winning the World Cup for the first time.
And it would take a brave person to back against seeing more goalscoring heroics before the tournament draws to a close in Brazil.