Created on 27-05-2009 at 00:00 AM
The folk from Swabia in the south-west of Germany can do everything, a local tourist campaign claims, “except speak proper German”, a humorous nod to the nigh-impenetrable dialect spoken in those parts. Certainly, the region’s exports are far from confined to its typical culinary delicacies of Maultaschen and Spätzle. Swabia appears to specialise in strikers: Ulm-born Uli Hoeneß and Nördlingen native Gerd Müller have proved as much in Bayern colours, and fellow Baden-Wurttemberg goal-getter Mario Gomez is now set to follow in their footsteps.
The soon-to-be FCB star was born 23 years ago to a Spanish father and German mother in the Upper Swabian town of Riedlingen on the Danube. The man dubbed Super Mario by the media began playing for local club SV Unlingen, before he first came to the scouts’ notice at former Bundesliga outfit SSV Ulm. He duly joined the VfB Stuttgart youth section in 2001.
League title and Player of the Year
Gomez was a member of the German championship winning VfB U-19 side three years later, and also took his first steps towards professional status. In March 2004, he made his maiden senior appearance for the last ten minutes of Stuttgart’s Champions League meeting with Chelsea. His Bundesliga debut followed two months later, although he was not to make the real breakthrough for another season.
The then 20-year-old earned regular status in 2005-6, and has been a key part of VfB’s success story ever since, the crowning glories being a stunning Bundesliga title triumph and the Player of the Year accolade in 2007. “Mario Gomez has done great things for VfB,“ Stuttgart Director of Sport Horst Heldt commented.