Simon Terodde has scored 11 goals in nine games for Schalke this season and is now the joint-top scorer in Bundesliga 2 history. Lothar Matthäus thinks he should be in Hansi Flick's Germany squad. Is he right?
Germany’s most capped player was referring to a placard he saw in Germany’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Romania in Hamburg. The sign being held up by a fan read: “Hey Hansi, where’s Terodde?”
Most responses to that question were probably in the area of “he plays down in Bundesliga 2 and shouldn’t be anywhere near Germany’s team”. But not from one of the nation’s greatest-ever players, who told Bild: “We should give the idea a chance.”
There are two lines of thinking that lead to this conclusion. The first is that Terodde is a natural goalscorer and in fine form. His 11 goals in Bundesliga 2 is three more than any German currently plying their trade in a professional division around the world.
The second thought is that Germany lack an out-and-out striker – and have done ever since Miroslav Klose, the nation’s record goalscorer with 71, retired from international duty after the 2014 World Cup.
Lukas Podolski got his 49th and final international goal in 2017, but had been a bit-part player for a number of years by then. Mario Gomez (31 goals in 78) last played at the 2018 World Cup but hadn’t scored internationally since 2017.
The top scorer in the current Germany setup is Thomas Müller – by no means a centre-forward – with 40 goals in 108 games. Next on the list is Timo Werner, who Flick currently regards as his first-choice striker, with 21 from 47 caps.
We’ve seen Kai Havertz play as a false 9 for club and country, but that isn’t the Flick way. He’s using the same 4-2-3-1 formation that brought him unprecedented levels of success at Bayern Munich. Many of the players are the same, like goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, midfielders Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka, wingers Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane alongside Müller, and Niklas Süle in defence. But the crucial difference is there is no German Robert Lewandowski. Or is there?
Terodde is the Lewandowski of Bundesliga 2 with 11 goals in only nine games for Schalke this season. He’s only drawn a blank in one of those, but did make up for that with an assist. He has a goal involvement of one every 61 minutes.
Watch: Terodde’s top 5 goals in Bundesliga 2
And this campaign is no fluke. His latest strike saw him equal Dieter Schatzschneider’s record of 153 goals in Germany’s second tier. He’s been the division’s top scorer three times and never got fewer than five goals a season (back in 2013/14). In the words of Matthäus: “When you feed him, he scores”.
That’s because Terodde is a genuine fox in the box, a proper centre-forward. He knows how to find space and put the ball away once he’s picked out.
Across over 320 appearances in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, he’s got his 163 goals at an average of one every 143 minutes of playing time and every 4.4 shots. Compare that to Werner’s league record with RB Leipzig and VfB Stuttgart, where he got 91 goals at a rate of one every 172 minutes and every 5.8 shots.
Matthäus also explicitly names Freiburg’s Nils Petersen and Hertha Berlin’s Davie Selke as the only other potential German strikers in the Bundesliga. The former is known for being clinical, especially as the Bundesliga’s record goalscorer as a substitute, but he also trails Terodde for minutes per goal (144) and shots per goal (4.9) across his career in the top two divisions. Selke is some way further off at 262 and 6.8 respectively, having also never got more than 10 in a season at either level.
You may point at Terodde’s record of only 10 goals in 58 Bundesliga appearances, but context is needed there. His first five games (0 goals) with Cologne in 2010/11 were over a total of just 32 minutes. When he eventually returned in 2017/18, that was with a promoted Stuttgart side (15 games, two goals) who struggled in general at that level.
A mid-season switch back to Cologne produced another five goals in 15 appearances, but the Billy Goats were dead and buried before he even joined in January as they endured the worst Bundesliga campaign in their history. And when he bounced back in 2019/20 with Cologne (three goals in 23 games), he was again in a struggling promoted team.
The point is that when Terodde is in a team that attacks and plays with confidence – and therefore able to provide him with adequate service, as he’s so far only had in Bundesliga 2 – he is more than capable of putting those chances away.
The idea of having a second-division player represent Germany may also sound unworthy of four-time world champions, but there is a precedent here. Matthäus names Cologne’s Jonas Hector as someone who was playing in Bundesliga 2 at the same time as donning Die Mannschaft’s jersey. There are further examples in Patrick Helmes, Marko Marin, Oliver Neuville, Paul Freier, Stefan Effenberg, Ferdinand Keller and Siggi Held.
But perhaps the most famous is Podolski. Rudi Völler handed him his international debut and took him to UEFA Euro 2004 just weeks after he’d been relegated with Cologne. In the time between his last top-flight game in May 2004 and next one in August 2005, he earned 15 caps and scored seven times – all on the back of an excellent season in Bundesliga 2 where he scored 29 times in 32 competitive outings.
Or what about Terodde’s age? He’ll be a touch over 33 and eight months by the time the November internationals and the final two World Cup qualifiers come around. If he were to play against Liechtenstein, he’d be one day younger than Martin Max was when he earned his first cap at the latter stage of a second Torjägerkanone-winning Bundesliga campaign in 2001/02. Three other players have made Germany debuts aged 34 or older.
Stats and numbers are one thing, but it’s making sure the package fits. Recent years have shown that Germany have been missing a genuine centre-forward, even if only as a form of variation, something different they can try when they are struggling to break down opponents.
Ultimately, the decision on who plays is down to Flick. There’s no doubting he’s aware of Terodde’s exploits and Germany’s need for a classic striker. Die Mannschaft have always won World Cups with top strikers like Gerd Müller, Völler, Jürgen Klinsmann, Fritz Walter and Klose.
As Matthäus – the 1990 World Cup-winning captain – puts it: “You simply need players like him. For me, Terodde is a serious option.”