Guess this football player, stand to win COURTS prizes

HIS EARLY YEARS

His rise to stardom was the stuff of fantasies.

A product of his boyhood club's youth academy, he made his full Bundesliga debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old.

By the end of the following season, he was picked by fellow footballers as the best newcomer of the 2009/10 campaign.

Some thought the 2010 World Cup in South Africa came slightly too early for the budding talent, until he took the stage by storm.

He won the Golden Boot with five goals and three assists, and even then he refused to get carried away.

"I basically got lucky, I hit form at just the right time," he said.

HIS STRENGTHS

His talent often escapes the naked eye.

He doesn't necessarily stand out on the pitch.

He isn't terribly fast like Gareth Bale, he can't run rings around opponents like Lionel Messi does and he certainly doesn't whip in a wicked shot of the Cristiano Ronaldo varietal.

But he is devastatingly effective.

His most lethal skill is an innate quality that no amount of work on the training ground can perfect.

His uncanny knack of finding space in tight areas has destroyed many an opponent.

He lurks in the shadows, then strikes when least expected.

His ability to play as a winger, centre forward or attacking midfielder also makes him a coach's dream.

Yet, perhaps the one ingredient that has sustained his success at the highest level is his humility that keeps him grounded.

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he said: "I'm slowly but surely getting the feeling I can do more with my left foot than just get up and fetch a beer."

HIS WEAKNESSES

Despite his image as the consummate professional, he is also prone to the occasional outburst.

He once gesticulated at a teammate who took a poor free-kick during a match, leading to an argument between the pair after the final whistle.

Said the teammate afterwards: "I hate it when teammates constantly raise their hands and complain.

"It is disrespectful. We are a team."

He has also clashed with his club coach at least twice before, once during a game after being substituted, and another in a training session.

WHY HE'S FAMOUS

In just two World Cups he has played in, he has already scored 10 goals.

At the 2010 edition, he registered five goals and three assists to claim the Golden Boot award.

Four years later, he finished second on the top-scorers' chart, his goals proving crucial as Germany claimed their first World Cup title since 1990.

His only European Championship to date came in Euro 2012, where Germany lost in the semi-finals to Italy.

Age: 26

Height: 1.86m

Position: Attacking midfielder/ forward

Country: Germany

International debut: March 3, 2010 (v Argentina)

International games: 70 International goals: 31

garylim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 1, 2016.
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