Sharing a surname with FC Bayern München and Germany legend Gerd Müller is a challenge for any footballing wannabe, especially one whose game takes place in the attacking third of the field, but Thomas Müller has ensured that the inevitable parallels with the 'Bomber der Nation' have a distinctly positive hue.
A lot to live up to
In fact, a meteoric start to his career shows no signs of stopping, and has already taken the current Bayern forward close to the highs reached by his illustrious namesake.
Müller won the Golden Boot award as top scorer and was voted the best young player at the 2010 FIFA World Cup - only months after Argentina legend Diego Maradona failed to recognise him at a press conference minutes after his own side had just played him in a friendly. Müller made sure Maradona knew exactly who he was in South Africa, however, with a headed goal in Germany's 4-0 quarter-final victory.
It was the culmination of a remarkable first full professional season for the Bavaria-born player, who prefers to play "just behind the strikers". Successful personal seasons followed, but the emergence of Borussia Dortmund and two UEFA Champions League final failures marred Müller's fledgling career.
Success at lastHowever, he played an integral role in FC Bayern's rise back to becoming a European superpower, scoring 23 goals in all competitions en route to the club's quadruple triumph in 2012/13. He followed that up by lifting the FIFA Club World Cup in another quadruple-winning 2013/14 campaign in which observers worldwide rushed to praise his movement and starring role on the right-side of an attacking midfield trio.
After Pep Guardiola's arrival at Bayern, the versatile attacker, who is also known for his light-hearted nature and fondness for off-the-cuff one-liners, was also deployed as a lone striker at times. Unsurprisingly, he excelled there too. After all, performances for club and country have long since established Bayern's "new" Müller as a star in his own right, and his signing of a new contract until 2019 prior to Germany's successful 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign - in which he scored five goals and provided three assists - underlined his importance.
Unorthodox and contentIt is not just his champion mentality that sets him apart, it is also his physical approach, and indeed, despite appearing ungainly and possessing an apparently inferior technique to other players, Müller has surpassed them all. Neither is he bothered by observations that he may lack in aesthetic appeal as a player.
“I understand that many find it hard to get me as a player,” he told British newspaper The Observer in 2014. “They say: ‘Impossible, how did he do that?’ But, at some point, they maybe start thinking: ‘Oh, he’s quite good after all.’”