The FIFA World Cup's all-time leading scorer, Germany's top marksman, a World Cup winner, a Bundesliga title victor, and a living legend of the game, Miroslav Klose did more in one career than most players could do in five.
bundesliga.com looks at the making of the former Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich striker, and charts in ten key dates how this late starter in the professional game made up for lost time, and how!
1) 1985: Wilkommen in Germany!
Germany have a lot to thank Poland and France for in the making of their all-time leading scorer. Poland because Miroslaw Jozef Klose was born in the Silesian city of Opole - about 60 miles from the birthplace of another German football icon, Lukas Podolski - before spending the first six years of his life in France with his father, Josef, a pro player at AJ Auxerre. Aged seven, he moved to the Pfalz region of Germany, the country of his father's origins, where Klose - who could only speak Polish and French at the time - communicated best with his feet.
Watch: The best of Klose in the Bundesliga!
"It was firstly through football that I earned the respect of my classmates," he revealed. After being rejected by the local sports school for being too lightweight, his sporting parents - his mother, Barbara, had played handball for Poland - added the benefit of their experience to the natural gifts their genes had bestowed on their son. "As athletes, both of them knew that there are always obstacles you have to get over."
2) Summer 1999: A 'Lucky' break
While turning out for SG Blaubach-Diedelkopf in the seventh-tier of German football, Klose wore the shirt of Olaf Marschall - Kaiserslautern's Germany international striker - while singing his local side's praises on the terraces of the Fritz-Walter Stadion. At 20 - an age when most professionals have already 'made it' - Klose signed for FC 08 Homburg's second team, then in the fifth league. Financial problems meant he joined the first-team squad's battle in the third division.
Kaiserslautern took note of his scoring record, and signed him in 1999. For their reserve side. It was only when the amateurs' boss, Michael Dusek, spoke to first-team coach Otto Rehhagel about his protege that Klose - finally - made the step into professional football. "I've been lucky to always have coaches that stand by me," acknowledged Klose.
3) 15/04/2000: 'He's come out of nowhere'
Anyone remember Jörgen Pettersson? The Swede played for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Kaiserslautern without great distinction, but it's a safe bet Klose has vivid memories of Pettersson coming over to the touchline to be replaced by a 21-year-old forward making his Bundesliga debut 76 minutes into a game with Eintracht Frankfurt.
"Sometimes, I can hardly believe it," said legendary Kaiserslautern president Jürgen Friedrich, who thought he had seen it all in four decades at the club. "He has come out of absolutely nowhere." That was where Pettersson went as Klose seized his opportunity, forming a potent partnership with Vratislav Lokvenc.
4) 24/03/01: The best thing ever…so far
"I had planned on using my head," was Klose's matter-of-fact response when asked why his first Germany goal — on his debut — had been an 87th-minute diving header. He had come off the bench to replace Oliver Neuville 17 minutes from time in Leverkusen with his country locked at 1-1 with Albania in a FIFA World Cup qualifier and coach Rudi Völler looking for a miracle from the young Kaiserslautern forward. "It doesn't get better than this," a beaming Klose had exclaimed after the game. Actually, it did. A lot.
5) 13/05/06: Derby winner and Torjägerkanone
A Daniel Jensen free-kick, a Naldo flick, a Klose finish. It was a successful recipe the trio cooked up on more than one occasion at Bremen, but on Matchday 34 of the 2005/06 season it had weightier significance than usual. It brought a derby victory over Hamburg, qualification for the UEFA Champions League, and - for Klose - a 25th goal in just 26 league appearances, an outrageous tally that earned him the one - and incredibly, only - Torjägerkanone as the Bundesliga's top scorer of his career.
His Brem-ance with Werder had started in 2004 directly after the club's 'double' win and ended three years later when he joined Bayern as a more complete, more deadly goalscorer. "It was in Bremen that I really developed as a striker who brings his teammates into play," said Klose, who forged a potent bond with the likes of Johann Micoud, Diego and Ivan Klasnic, and would end the 2006/07 campaign as the league's top assister. "Already in the warm-up I would look at the strengths and weaknesses of both opposing centre-backs."
6) 26/06/07: Bayern U-turn
As a Kaiserslautern fan in the 1990s, Klose would happily join in well-worn German football terrace chants insulting Bayern; less than a decade later, he was wearing the shirt of the record Bundesliga champions, and their fans were singing his name. And occasionally muttering the odd insult too, no doubt.
He scored only 24 times in 98 league games as he mostly played in the shadows of Luca Toni and Mario Gomez, but gave his trophy cabinet significant heft with two 'double' wins in 2007/08 and 2009/10 and picked up a UEFA Champions League runners-up medal from the latter season, his penultimate at the Allianz Arena.
Watch: Klose's top 5 Bundesliga goals
7) 18/09/11: La dolce vita at Lazio
For a man so closely identified with Germany, Bayern and Bremen, Klose actually spent more time at Lazio than any other club in his career. A goal - but of course - crowned his competitive debut in a UEFA Europa League qualifying round win over Rabotnicki in September, 2011. "With a player like Klose, we have a realistic chance of winning the Serie A title," said Italy international midfielder Stefano Mauri. That prediction did not come true, but there was a sweet 2012/13 Coppa Italia final triumph against arch-rivals AS Roma while Klose also won over the club's fans.
"Miroslav Klose is an example of professionalism, reliability, modesty and honesty who should be protected by UNESCO," read a Lazio supporters' petition for him not to retire in what proved his final season as a player, the 2015/16 campaign.
8) 06/06/14: Bringing down 'Der Bomber'
Summer 2014 was full of historical exploits for German football, and Klose provided the first with the fourth goal in a 6-1 win over Armenia to make the World Cup warm-up much more than a footnote. Having pulled level with the legendary Gerd Müller as his country's all-time leading scorer with a strike against neighbours Austria in September 2013 he moved out in front with his 69th international goal just before jetting off to Brazil. "I think the secret [of Klose's success] is his professionalism and his head," said Joachim Löw.
"His greatest strength is his determination to stay at this high level and not give up." Only the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferenc Puskas and Pele have scored more international goals than Klose, who — with 137 Germany appearances — is second only to Lothar Matthäus in the country’s list of most-capped players.
9) 08/07/14: Miro-aldo
Another Klose milestone came before he and his Germany teammates got their hands on football's greatest prize in Brazil. He had netted his 15th World Cup goal, drawing level with Brazil legend Ronaldo, in the group stage encounter with Ghana, and then became the final tournament's all-time top scorer in the 7-1 semi-final defeat of the hosts that propelled Germany spectacularly into a final they would - eventually, thanks to Mario Götze's late goal - emerge victorious from.
"It's a record that means a huge amount to us," said Löw.
10) 11/05/18: Klose the coach
His playing career ended in 2016, his next step — as a coach — began in earnest when Bayern appointed him their U17 boss less than two years later. "It's our philosophy to bind worthy and successful players to the club," said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. "So I'm happy Miro Klose, with his immense experience, can help us with the development of our youth academy players."
Despite playing down his status - "I'm just a normal coach, not a superstar," said Klose - his place as a football icon affords him additional weight in the dressing room, and will give him a greater chance of passing on his message to his young charges that to have a life in football it has to be your life. "I was never the kind of guy for night clubs and long nights," explained Klose. "I have always focussed completely on football."
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