Cologne - Commentating on Germany's ARD television channel, Tom Bartels spoke on behalf of a nation when he said "Put it in! put it in!" as Mario Götze approached the ball inside the penalty area towards the end of the FIFA World Cup final.
"He's put it in! Mario Götze!" concluded Bartels' sentence, words that will be immortalised together with the FC Bayern München midfielder's winning goal to beat Argentina and .
It is just over three months to the day when Germany held its collective breath at that moment in the famed Estadio Maracana, and it is a goal that has sparked Götze's career into life. Three months on, the 22-year-old tops the Bundesliga scoring charts with six strikes in the first eight games of the season and is delivering increasingly convincing performances week on week. Mario is truly on top of the world in Munich, one year on from an arrival he never regrets.
"It was all about a new challenge for me," Götze tells Germany's Sky television network. "I wanted to develop, train under Pep Guardiola and be part of this team." That development is evident in his goalscoring figures - in both his last year with Dortmund and his first for Bayern, he found the back of the net ten times. In the previous two seasons, when Dortmund won the title, he struck six - the same as he has after just under a quarter of the current campaign.
"I'm still very, very young," Götze added. "I'm only 22! I still can't do everything right and I've still got to get to know all the processes and procedures." Taking the rough with the smooth is one of them, and it had hardly been a rosy World Cup for the attacking midfielder until that goal. "When you read some things during a World Cup, then it can get to you," he said. He silently provided the right riposte for the critics, some of whom had questioned his performances.
It was a goal that Götze will cherish and remember for the rest of his life, and he is not the only one. "It's a moment that you can't truly grasp; it was indescribable," he added of that moment of glory in the 113th minute in Rio de Janeiro. "On the one hand, you feel that you've made a major contribution [to winning the World Cup], but at the time I knew there were still seven minutes to play, and so did the rest of the team. Something could still have happened."
Instagram hit with Messi
Fortunately for Götze and Germany, Manuel Neuer was not troubled in goal, although it was a tense finale, particularly when four-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi lined up a dangerous-looking free-kick. "We just stood there in the wall, praying that nothing would happen," Götze admits. "It was incredible." Messi missed the target and Götze's prayers were answered.
That night was not Messi's, it was Götze's, although the match-winner still went to the man voted the tournament's best player to pick up a cherished souvenir, snapped in a photo that soon went viral. "I had just arrived for the man-of-the-match award at a press conference and I saw him," Götze said.
Genius @leomessi #partofgoetze
"I chased after him to get a photo. It wasn't him wanting a picture with me - it was the other way around," Götze said with a grin, although by that time, it would have come as no surprise had the FC Barcelona forward actually initiated the image that became a social media hit. Yet that was not the only defining memory of the final's aftermath. Of the thousands of pictures that were taken of him, the most endearing might be one that shows Götze paying tribute to his former Borussia Dortmund team-mate
during the prize-giving ceremony. Reus missed the tournament with an injury he picked up just 24 hours prior to boarding a plane for Brazil.
"I get on really, really well with Marco and we had a fantastic year together at Dortmund," Götze said. "I'm pretty sure Dortmund will get back on track soon and get the points they need. I'm convinced of it."
Now settled in Munich, Götze still faces one challenge that even he is struggling to master: cooking. The 22-year-old shares a home with his elder brother Fabian (a defender for SpVgg Unterhaching in Germany's third tier) and serving up a suitable supper is a test for both of them. Cooking seems to be the only thing he struggles with.
Text by Dennis-Julian Gottschlich / Adapted by Ben Gladwell