Germany's '100-million-euro man'

2016-06-07 22:04
Thomas Muller (Supplied)
Thomas Muller (Supplied)

Berlin - Famously mistaken as a ballboy by Diego Maradona after his Germany debut in 2010, Thomas Muller will need no introduction at Euro 2016.

Despite having earned 71 caps and scored 32 goals for Germany, Muller, who floats around the attack with seemingly no fixed position, is still only 26 and is a shoe-in for club or country.

He insists he is just an average guy and his name is so typically German that 700,000 countrymen are also called Thomas Muller, except this one has well over nine million followers on Facebook.

Bayern fans dubbed him the '100-million-euro man' after Manchester United reportedly tabled a massive bid for the Bavarian-born product who joined his local side from regional team TSV Paehl as a 10-year-old. His brother Simon still plays for the club.

"It's basically crazy the numbers which are currently kicking around in football -- that's just business," Muller replied when asked about his nickname.

"No one is worth 100 million euros, it's just a trade figure."

Last December, Muller signed a contract extension with Bayern until June 2021, reportedly making him €15 million per season.

But the sky's the limit in terms of what a Premier League club would potentially pay for the forward Bayern regard as 'irreplaceable'.

"Thomas Muller embodies everything which distinguishes FC Bayern Munich," enthused the club's sporting director Matthias Sammer.

"He is an absolute role model, an absolute gem and he's irreplaceable."

Sunny sense of humour

Perhaps the greatest testament to Muller's talent is that in a squad of superstars at Bayern, head coach Pep Guardiola, much like Germany boss Joachim Low, has been a fellow convert to Louis van Gaal's famous dictum that, when fit, "Muller always plays".

Off the field, he is not your typical footballer.

His wife is not a model, but a dressage rider. The couple own several horses.

He has neither a fancy haircut or a flash tattoo and the lanky Jack-the-lad is the joker in the Germany and Bayern squads.

He was asked, in English, straight after winning the 2014 World Cup final if he was disappointed to have missed out to James Rodriguez on winning the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer.

Using a thick Bavarian dialect, Muller jokingly told the baffled female reporter to stick the trophy where the sun doesn't shine, because "we've just won the World Cup!"

He left giggling team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger to translate. Schweinsteiger declined.

Muller looks like he would be just as comfortable bantering with locals and serving frothy mugs of beer in his upper Bavarian home village's beer garden as scoring goals for club and country.

He grew up a Bayern fan, slept under a duvet in the club's colours and went to games at the Olympic Stadium with his cousins.

Muller is the first to admit that he is not the fastest in a sprint, "but I'm pretty good over 10 kilometres", in reference to his high work rate.

When Germany finished third at the 2010 World Cup, he left South Africa with both the Golden Boot and the best young player award and wrote himself into German football folklore with two goals in the 4-1 trouncing of England in the last 16.

Four years on, Maradona, who by then knew exactly who he was talking about, dubbed Muller 'El Flaco' -- the Skinny One -- after the German's hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Portugal in the opening group match of Brazil 2014 playing as a False Nine.

Now in France, Muller once again looks set to be his country's key man.

Read more on:    germany  |  euro 2016  |  thomas muller  |  soccer

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