The fact that Miroslav Klose undergoes a gruelling ice bath before and sometimes even after every game played gives a strong indication of the man’s character. The fact that, even as a less spectacular or controversial figure than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, when he gets injured it draws as much reaction as when the Swede does gives an indication as to the type of footballer he is.
Klose agonises through his pre-match ritual so as to ground tendinitis in his knees and allow for the continuous and fully active contribution he looks to make each game that, even at 33, has seen him become a crucial figure at Lazio.
Eight goals from his first 13 appearances with the Biancocelesti and nine full 90 minutes from 10 League appearances are testament to why he endures such a physical treatment, why injuries are still a surprise and why more than one German newspaper has already crowned him ‘King of Rome’. Importantly, along with his national form, his final two years at Bayern – just four goals from his last 45 League appearances – now sit as an anomaly.
For Germany and now again for his club, Klose is an attacking focal point. This week significantly also saw him convince Germany Coach Joachim Low to finish the year’s international fixture list with him in the first XI and Mario Gomez – the man seven years his junior who kept him out of the Bayern team circa 2009-2011 – on the bench.
Whilst Klose’s importance within the national set-up has always remained even when domestic form has faltered, both the player and the German Press have spent the week citing his move to the Italian capital as having had an extra influence on his most recent return to prominence. It is a return to note that across the board has seen reaction in awe of his age-defying performance.
Indeed, captaining the team against the Netherlands on Tuesday, Klose demonstrated not only that his scoring touch with Die Mannschaft remains, but that he can still turn provider will equal success. Either side of his well-directed headed goal came intelligent and perfectly-weighted assists for Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil respectively, whilst he also managed six more attempts on Roma ‘keeper Maarten Stekelenburg’s Dutch goal.
Pertinently, the Polish-born forward’s continuous running was also described as that of a 23-year-old, not a 33-year-old. His performance in Hamburg earned a standing ovation and left both teammates and Coaches rhapsodising of his continued influence within the national set-up, 10-and-a-half years after his international debut.
Klose is currently both his adopted country’s second most capped player with 113 appearances and their second highest goalscorer on 63 goals. Whilst Lothar Matthaus’ 150 caps may be out of reach, the Lazio man is thought to be eyeing Gerd Muller’s record of 68 goals. Indeed, German headlines ran with a big ‘five’ highlighted on front pages to show the goal in mind everyone is anticipating he will soon reach. Importantly, it is the challenge the move to Lazio represented that the player and the Press have alluded to as helping maintain German confidence in his abilities.
Indeed, the challenge is one he has risen to and now sees him pull in similar confidence in Rome. Il Messaggero describe him as a ‘robot created for playing football and scoring goals’ and whilst goals have played a part, the description also does him a disservice.
Klose’s six League strikes and two assists already account for half of Lazio’s goal-tally and have directly earned seven of the table-topping Aquile’s 21 League points so far. He has found the target with every other shot and scored every other time he has an effort on goal. Perhaps as noteworthy is that Klose is also the team’s attacking player with the highest average number of successful tackles won in every game and he is currently averaging one of the highest pagelle marks across the League this season for his performances.
The ice baths don’t do any hope of moving away from metaphors focusing just on his coolness in front of goal, but as this week has highlighted, to both his club and country it is clear that Klose is more than just a record-chasing goalscorer.