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Unhappy ending

Back injury halts Klose’s record attempt

A back injury has put paid to Miroslav Klose’s dream of going down in history as the all-time top scorer at the World Cup finals. A trapped nerve prevented the Bayern striker playing any active part in Saturday evening’s third-place play-off in South Africa, as the 32-year-old made a muted exit from the global stage.

Klose continued his quest for fitness right to the bitter end, even warming up before the match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. “It's a real shame for him, because he was so close to the record,” said Joachim Löw, although the Germany boss had also made one thing clear to the player: “The team takes priority over everything else.”

Klose’s premonition

“I don’t believe I’ll play more than 19 games at the World Cup,” Klose said in the build-up to the third-place encounter, although his ultimately correct prediction was due to a miscalculation. Had he played against Uruguay, the Bayern striker would have moved on to 20 matches at the finals, leaving him alone in third place in the Germany all-time chart headed by Lothar Matthäus (25) and Uwe Seeler (21).

“Miro was determined to play. He was feeling good in the morning,” reported Löw. But after failing a fitness test, Klose faced the unpleasant truth: “There’s no point in trying.” Two dreams have faded for the player in the last few days, lifting the prestigious trophy on the one hand, and adding a couple of goals to his fine record on the other, all due to an awkward fall in Germany’s semi-final defeat to Spain. “He wasn’t able to sprint,” Löw continued.

One goal short

The FCB man, who scored five goals apiece at the 2002 and 2006 finals but ends this year’s edition on four, is now one short of top scorer Ronaldo (15 goals). And Klose will be 36 by the time of the next World Cup finals, four years from now in Brazil. “I do sense a touch of regret. I don’t think I’ll play at the World Cup again,” the leading scorer from 2006 mused.

“I’m looking for at least five goals at the finals,” Klose stated before the 2010 tournament. He has finished on four, taking him level with Gerd ‘Der Bomber’ Müller (14) in the all-time ranking. He has also already been overtaken in the hunt for this year’s Golden Boot.

Drive and ambition

Despite Klose’s relatively poor season at Bayern with just three Bundesliga goals to his name and limited playing time, Löw retained his unshakeable faith in the player. “Even when the going gets tough, there’s never any self-doubt with him,” the coach declared, praising Klose’s attitude and personality: “His hallmark for years now has been modesty and a capacity for self-criticism.”

And even with more than 100 international appearances under his belt, “he’s still driven and determined to succeed,” Löw concluded. As a result, the Poland-born goal-getter has no intention of retiring from the Germany set-up just yet: Euro 2012 in his country of birth and the Ukraine is his new target.