Thomas Müller celebrated winning his 12th Bundesliga title in May 2023. - © Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images
Thomas Müller celebrated winning his 12th Bundesliga title in May 2023. - © Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Why is Thomas Müller never injured?


Bayern Munich and Germany star Thomas Müller is constantly defying the odds - and age - to post remarkable numbers year-in, year-out. looks at how football's Benjamin Button manages to stay so fit...

Müller made his first team debut for Bayern on 15 August 2008, with an 11-minute outing on Matchday 1 of the 2008/09 campaign. He went on to feature four times in the league that year and even scored on his UEFA Champions League debut when bagging his first goal for the club in a 7-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in March 2009.

Since Jürgen Klinsmann handed Müller his senior bow, there have been 13 coaches in the Bayern dugout, while hundreds of players have come and gone through the front door of the Allianz Arena.

Each of those coaches has either made Müller central to their plans or moved on. Each of the players has looked to Müller for guidance.

Watch: Müller's funniest moments

Müller has not only been a constant since his initial breakthrough, he has gone on to become the Bundesliga's most decorated player and helped usher in a period of dominance never seen before as Bayern have collected 11 successive titles and Müller has taken his personal collection to a record-breaking 12.

Mr. Bayern has missed just 38 of Bayern's 476 top-flight fixtures since the start of the 2009/10 campaign - his second with the club's first team. Seven of those absences came in 2022/23 alone, with injury keeping Müller out of action from Matchday 9-15.

That was the longest injury spell of his career since missing seven games of the 2017/18 season and just the fourth time in his career that Müller has been sidelined for multiple league matches in succession.

As a result, Müller has now collected 442 appearances at the top of the German footballing pyramid. Of the active players in the league, teammate Manuel Neuer (478) is the sole player with more Bundesliga experience.

Watch: 10 typical Thomas Müller goals

Meanwhile, just Sepp Maier (706) has represented Bayern more times than Müller (666) in all competitions, with the former also just ahead when it comes to Bundesliga outings for the Bavarian giants with a record of 473. There's also Müller's 121 Germany caps to throw in the mix too.

Considering Müller's commitment to the cause, both Bayern records could go this term and it's his infectious work-ethic which has underpinned his ongoing longevity. His disciplined approach is also highlighted by just one Bundesliga suspension across his entire career - a one-game ban after collecting five yellow cards in the 2019/20 season.

As Louis van Gaal famously once said: "In my team, Muller always plays." And the Dutch great clearly isn't the only person to have thought that down the years.

Joachim Löw described Müller previously as a "natural talent", while Neuer says "he doesn't get tired" and, when describing Müller, Jupp Heynckes said: "This type of player does not exist in the whole of Europe... Thomas has a voice in the team. And he also leads by example. Thomas Müller is a piece of Bayern Munich."

Current boss Thomas Tuchel agrees, and added soon after he took the Bayern job: "Thomas is Bayern and Bayern is Thomas."

Watch: Thomas Müller: 12 titles, 12 goals

But it's possible Hansi Flick, the man who made Müller his key component as his Bayern side swept all before them and claimed six titles in 2019/20, who provides Müller's best reference.

“Thomas Müller is a good example of what I expect from the players and in the team. If a coach could carve himself a player: Thomas Müller would be the result," said Flick after stepping into the Germany head coach role and bringing Müller back into the international fold.

"The overall package he offers is outstanding. Everyone can take an example from him and his attitude; Thomas is exceptional and very special in every respect. For the team, he has value beyond his athletic abilities.”

His obvious natural ability and continuous bid for improvement have seen Müller redefine the game, and this technical proficiency have positioned the man from Bavaria as a modern great.

Flick also credits Müller's kid-like enthusiasm as being essential to his growth each and every year.

Müller enjoyed a close working relationship with Hansi Flick during their time together at Bayern. - Bernd Feil/M.i.S. via images/MIS

“Thomas Müller brings what Jeff Bezos described as a ‘Day 1 mentality’," added Flick. "The first day of falling in love, the first day at a new job, the first day at school. The trick is to retain the magic of the beginning. And Thomas exemplifies this every day. Of all the players in our squad, he’s been around the longest, he’s experienced a lot, and yet you can always sense with him that he’s on fire as if it were the first day.”

But what else are the secrets to Müller's success? He lifted a little of the nutritional lid in an interview with Bild, saying: "Basically, it's about replenishing your carbohydrate stores two days and the day before the game. Have enough to drink. On game days, I try to use ingredients that are already gentle on the diet: nothing very spicy, nothing very acidic."

He also talked up the value of a balanced diet that includes a "whole range of vegetables, fruit, fish, meat... the plate should look colourful. I want to have taste and at the same time supply my body with nutrients in the best possible way."

Then there's Müller's not-so-secret daily ginger-turmeric immune booster, something he picked up from fellow Bavarian, and top chef, Alfons Schuhbeck, AKA the “Ginger Pope.”

“When it comes to ginger in particular, there is quite a consensus that it’s a good idea. Ginger is powerfully antioxidant, antibacterial and has anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric has similar properties, I won’t say no,” Müller told TZ of his ritual.

There are other factors, too. While Leon Goretzka famously bulked up during the coronavirus lockdown and Alphonso Davies and ex-teammate Robert Lewandowski also boast impressive physiques, Müller has deliberately and consciously avoided treading a similar path.

Müller has long paid attention to small details to help avoid injury and keep himself at peak physical fitness. - AFP via Getty Images

“I’m not trying to be as muscular as some other players,” he told Yahoo Sports. “I just believe that my bones will last longer if they don’t have to carry as much weight. That’s my secret.”

Furthermore, the Bayern No.25 is selective about which on-field challenges he goes into, and how he contests them. “I have a good eye for dangerous situations,” he told TZ. “You don’t need to put everything on the line in every tackle in training. On top of that I know my body pretty well and am able to tell if I’m ok to keep playing if I feel a bit of pain, or whether I need to see a doctor or the physio for some treatment.

Whatever it is Müller's doing, he's clearly doing it right. The 144 Bundesliga goals, endless supply of assists and 33 major trophies certainly suggest so, anyway.