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World Cup

Thomas Müller saves his best for the World Cup stage

His three goals in Germany’s first World Cup match showed it to us all once again: Thomas Müller loves playing at the World Cup. The 24-year-old's role in the national team is growing despite not being a typical striker.

If you go to the trouble of looking up the name Müller in a German phone book, you will find some 320,000 Müllers. In fact, it is the most common name in Germany.

So, statistically speaking, it is not particularly surprising to see a Müller in Germany's national team. But it is how Müller scores his goals that is a bit more noticeable, like in the German national team's four-goal victory against Portugal.

"Of course, three goals in a match, in the first game, against such an opponent, it's fantastic," Mueller said after the game, in interview with national broadcaster ARD. "Each goal was more beautiful than the one before."

He meant that ironically, of course, as Müller seldom scores spectacular goals. The main thing is, though, that the ball goes in - that is Müller's main motto.

His first was a penalty-kick, his second a deflected shot, which managed to go in after he blocked a clearance and the third raked in from close range. For German fans there should have been some alarm bells going off - this was reminiscent of Gerd Müller

The other Müller

The 24-year-old often mentions Gerd Müller as his idol. Physically, the two don't look too similar. As a player, Gerd Müller, or "The Bomber" as he was otherwise known, was short and muscular and not particularly agile. Thomas, in contrast is tall and slim, almost goofy, in his appearance.

And he has incredible cardio-vascular fitness, which allows him to chase the ball around the pitch for 90 minutes like a marathon runner. He also has an ability to run angles and spot holes in the opponent's defense that others don't see in a split-second.

Some could say that the young Bavarian is actually in the process of developing a new type of footballer - himself. During the World Cup in South Africa, as he received the Golden Boot and the best young player Award, many experts said he was like a rare diamond.

But so far, he still hasn't allowed himself to be polished. His former coach at Bayern Munich, Louis van Gaal, once famously said, "Müller always plays" and in doing so, disspelled any doubts about the unconventional attacker's position in the star-studded Bayern lineup.

Under van Gaal and then the Dutchman's replacement, Jupp Heynckes, Thomas Müller was an important part of the team.

Thomas Müller scores his third goal against Portugal

Goals from any position: Müller scores, Portugal is at rock-bottom

Bayern's current coach Pep Guardiola doesn't seem completely convinced though. This last season Müller was warming the bench during important games, which lead to him feeling uncertain about his role at the club.

Shortly before the World Cup, he asked for a meeting with the Bayern board, especially as top clubs from Spain and England were interested in signing him up. The result: a new contract binding him to Bayern Munich until 2019.

More than just a striker

By that stage Thomas Müller, who has been married to his childhood sweetheart Lisa since 2009, will be 29-years-old. And, if he keeps playing the way he does, he'll be captain of the national team. As a veteran of over 50 national team games, he is already taking over responsibility.

After the opening match he was asked by the ARD reporter about taking the first penalty for Germany in the tournament.

"In the last four years, I have been involved in one or two things in international football and I'm not the sort of guy to get nervous," he said. And he's right: he's already played in three Champions League finals, the FIFA Club World Cup and is now playing his third international tournament with Germany.

But it is not just his form on the pitch that makes him a good candidate as leader. Müller is intelligent, eloquent and funny. When asked about the game, he doesn't avoid the questions.

And then there is the fact that, due to his age, he could take part in another two World Cups, if he stays fit. The future for Thomas Müller looks bright.

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