Abheek Dasgupta| July 12, 2014| 10:35 am IST
July 8, 2014 will be considered one of the darkest days in the history of Brazilian football, with the Seleção being crushed by the Germans in a highly lopsided World Cup semi-final that ended 7-1 in favour of Die Mannschaft. To Miroslav Klose, however, this day will be the day when he achieved one of international football's most important records. By scoring the second goal of the match in the 23rd minute, he became the highest scorer in the history of the FIFA World Cup, with 16 goals, therefore surpassing legendary Brazilian striker Ronaldo's 15.
Born in Poland to ethnic Germans, Klose migrated to Germany when he was eight years old. He was, therefore, eligible to represent Poland in international football as well. However, he decided to play for Germany, and made his debut on 24 March 2001 in a World Cup qualifier against Albania.
The first World Cup he played in was the 2002 edition in Korea and Japan. He came to international prominence when he scored five goals in the tournament, all five coming from headers. His World Cup debut was a memorable one, when he scored a hat-trick against Saudi Arabia in an 8-0 thrashing. Goals in the other two group stage matches against the Republic of Ireland and Cameroon saw to it that Germany topped their group.
In the next World Cup, where his country played host, he started off with a bang as well, scoring two goals in the tournament opener against Costa Rica, and followed this with two more against Ecuador in the last group game. Perhaps the most important goal he scored in that edition was the equaliser against Argentina in the quarterfinals, a game which the Germans won on penalties.
He started his third World Cup with a goal too, scoring against Australia in the first game, and followed it up with the opening goal in the controversial round of 16 fixture against England. In this edition too, the Germans played their quarterfinals against Argentina, and Klose scored two goals in a surprise 4-0 battering of the South Americans.
He came in to this World Cup one short of the World Cup record, and equalled the record in Germany's second group game, equalising from close range against Ghana. He broke the record as he scored off the rebound after the Brazil custodian Júlio César saved his first shot.
While his international record has been nearly perfect, his club record has not been as great. He joined Bundesliga outfit Kaiserslautern as a 20-year old, and scored 44 goals in 120 league games for them. Five seasons later, in 2004, he signed for Werder Bremen, with whom he won the DFB-Ligapokal in 2006, a year where he was also the Bundesliga top scorer and the German Footballer of the Year. The next season, however, he moved to German powerhouse FC Bayern München, but in his four years at Bavaria, he did not have much success, and in 2011, he moved to Italian side Lazio. He won two Bundesliga titles with FC Bayern.
He is also known for his distinctive goal celebration, which involves a front-flip. This earned him the nickname Salto-Klose (Salto being German for somersault).
With Germany playing the final on Sunday against Argentina, a team he has a good track record against in World Cups, it would be no surprise if coach Joachim Löw decides to put him in the starting eleven.