Klose bids to leave lasting mark on World Cup history
Veteran German international striker Miroslav Klose heads into his fourth World Cup finals not content just with having become the all-time record national goalscorer but determined to leave Brazil as the record marksman in World Cup history.
Klose, Poland-born but whose father moved to France and where he lived till he was eight before joining his footballing dad in Germany, became Germany's all-time top-scorer on Friday when he netted his 69th goal in his 132nd appearance in their 6-1 friendly thrashing of Armenia.
He bettered the previous record set by Gerd Mueller, who scored the winner in the 1974 World Cup final to claim his 68th goal in 62 appearances for West Germany.
Klose, who in an interview with a Polish newspaper in 2008 said he preferred to be called European rather than German or Polish, could return from Brazil as the all-time top scorer at World Cup finals as his 14 goals leaves him one short of retired Brazilian star Ronaldo's record of 15.
Klose was the top-scorer at the 2006 World Cup in Germany with five goals, having finished second with another five at the 2002 tournament, while he scored four in South Africa four years ago.
"I hope to have the chance to score one or two goals, and anyone who knows me is aware that the World Cup scoring record is a target of mine," said Klose.
His longevity -- he has been a constant presence since making his debut in 2001 -- is remarkable and saw him celebrate his 36th birthday at the German base in Brazil on Monday which was feted in unusual fashion.
About 20 members of the local Indian tribe the Pataxos dressed in traditional grass skirts, feather head dresses and bows danced round Klose and sang to him.
While that should remain a memory etched in Klose's mind forever and the photograph of it one to show his twin boys Luan and Noah he has he still believes a future in the game post World Cup.
He signed a contract extension in May with his Italian side Lazio until June 2015, with an extra year's option, but expects next season to be his last.
"At the moment, I assume that 2015 will be the end, but it depends on my fitness and any injuries," he told German daily Bild.
- 'His strength is his will' -
Klose jets to Brazil with question marks over his fitness after an injury-ravaged season restricted him to seven goals in 22 appearances for Lazio.
"When he's fit, then he is terribly important for my team," said Germany coach Joachim Loew, a self-confessed Klose fan.
"His secret is his professionalism, his strength is his will."
Klose said Germany's impressive display against Armenia, with five goals in 17 second-half minutes, was more important to him than breaking Mueller's record.
"Of course, the goal record means a lot to me, but it was more important for us to be in form," said Klose.
"When we play as well as we did in the second-half, then we create plenty of chances and I'll score goals.
"I want to play and I know I can help the team."
No European side has ever won a World Cup in south America in six attempts and Klose says the climate will count against Europe's teams.
"Realistically, there are five or six teams playing for the title," said Klose, the only recognised striker in Loew's squad.
"The south American teams have an advantage, in my opinion, as they know the climate better.
"I have spoken to my Lazio colleagues who played for Italy last year at the Confed Cup and they said they were struggling for air after 20 minutes.
"You need a fit team to go to Brazil and push themselves to the limits."
Aside from Ronaldo's record there is another one that the former Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and Kaiserslautern star is edging closer to -- Lothar Matthaeus' record of 150 appearances for Germany.
With 19 World Cup appearances, he could also break Matthaeus' record of 25 appearances at World Cup finals -- providing Germany go all the way to the final or third-placed play-off.