Football

Maradona should know Thomas Mueller by now

Thomas Mueller

Thomas Mueller  

With three days to go before Argentina’s match against Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals, Diego Maradona should by now have heard of Germany forward Thomas Mueller.

The last time Argentina played Germany in a friendly in March, Maradona felt so slighted when Mueller sat on the podium with him at the post-match news conference that he stormed off and refused to return until Mueller left the stage to the coach alone.

Mueller had just made his debut for Germany then. Now, he leads his team at the World Cup with three goals.

“I don’t know why he sent me away,” Mueller said.

Maradona might be forgiven for not recognising a player many in Germany might have had a hard time of identifying at the time.

After his team’s 1-0 victory in the Munich friendly, Maradona took centrestage at the news conference and then looked puzzled when Mueller also appeared behind and proceeded to sit on Maradona’s right. Maradona obviously had no intention of sharing the spotlight and demanded that Mueller leave. When the German stayed, Maradona got up and left.

Four months later, Mueller is growing into a Germany star, sinking England with the last two goals in a 4-1 victory that sent the three-time world champions into the last eight.

Despite the snub, Mueller doesn’t appear to bear a grudge against Maradona.

“I didn’t see a lot of him as a player because I am young,” the 20-year-old forward said. “I saw him at the farewell game for Lothar Matthaeus in Munich. He was obviously carrying a few extra kilos but it was extraordinary what he could still do with the ball and he still had a stage presence like before.

“It’s hard for me to judge him as a coach, but Argentina has been playing well and they’ve had good results,” Mueller added. “They don’t have a weak spot.”

Mueller said it was important for German players not to be provoked by the Argentines, a topic also stressed by his teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Mueller is a versatile forward who was promoted from Bayern Munich reserves by coach Louis van Gaal in his first season. Mueller paid back the coach’s faith by playing all 34 Bundesliga games and scoring 13 goals.

“He gave me the opportunity to show what I can do, but I also had to use this chance,” Mueller said.

Mueller wears No. 13 on his shirt, the number once used by Germany great and namesake Gerd Mueller.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 12:51:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/Maradona-should-know-Thomas-Mueller-by-now/article16273151.ece

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