SUPER MARIO:REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE.

He was once a laughing stock because of his misses.But the last 12 months Mario Gomez (26) has become the undisputed striker for club and country.Super Mario can score from any angle.He may be the tournament’s joint-leading goalscorer, but he’s  still being singled out for criticism back home.He has had the ball for a total of 22 seconds in Poland and Ukraine but has scored thee goals.Very efficient.The striker has silenced all his critics, including his nemesis Louis van Gaal.


He is Bayern Munich’s striker,but he’s always a left winger in the urinal.Mario Gómez García (26) will only use the far-left urinal to relieve himself before matches.If that urinal is occupied,he’ll just wait.Far better than that on the right, because if he pees in it, he won’t score.He also wears his left shoe first and always requests for a jersey with at least the number 3 at the back of his shirt : 3,13,23,30 or 31.As long as there is a 3 on it.Nor will you find Germany’s Mario Gomez singing the national anthem before matches, and it is not because he does not know the words. This particular ritual has its roots in a Germany U-15 encounter, during which Gomez found the net after abstaining from the anthem. Those who witnessed his displays at EURO 2008 may question the effectiveness of this routine.

Clearly, it is evident that Gomez is superstitious. In recent months his rituals and his lucky number have helped him (that’s what he thinks). The German striker with Spanish roots (born to a Spanish father and German mother) is in the form of his life. 41 goals in 52 appearances for Bayern this season is a very impressive record for a striker who only found the back of the net 14 times in his first season in Munich.Bayern Munich’s Gomez is now the striker he once was at VfB Stuttgart.

SUPER MARIO

In Stuttgart, the city of Mercedes and Porsche, Gomez was a big football player. Die Schwaben picked him as a fifteen year old kid from youth side SSV Ulm 1846. Three years later he debuted for Vfb Stuttgart against Chelsea in the Champions League.Gomez played 10 minutes of that game and made his debut in the Bundesliga two months later. He was the Dreh-und Angelpunkt (main man) in the team as VfB Stuttgart became German champions in 2007.The youngster established himself as one of the top scorers in the Bundesliga with 14 goals. He was named German Footballer of the Year in 2007.

Stuttgart fell far back the following season as the rest of the team struggled to keep performing at their 2006–07 season standards.Gomez remained at an astonishingly high level, scoring 19 goals in 25 appearances, second in the Bundesliga’s Top Scorer list, just behind Bayern Munich’s Luca Toni who scored 24 time.Plus three in four UEFA Champions League games to earn a place in the Germany team at UEFA EURO 2008, where his form strangely deserted him and he failed to score.In the DFB-Pokal Gómez was top scorer with six goals.In his last season at the Mercedes-Benz Arena Gomez netted 24 times in the Bundesliga. Mario became Super Mario,one of his many nicknames.Gomez also gained the nickname Mr. Zuverlässig (Mr. Reliable) because he was such a reliable finisher.


He was already one of the best attackers in the Bundesliga.Big,strong and good in the air;Gomez can shoot with both feet.He’s one of very few ambidextrous strikers. His best ability however remains as his anticipation to crosses and passes and finish them.He’s a great finisher who is often in the right place to finish off moves.His body balance and ability to hold up the ball often creates trouble for defenders. His ability to appear at the right place at the right time has proved to be his most lethal attacking weapon.Gómez joined Bayern Munich in 2009 from VfB Stuttgart for €30 million euro,a Bundesliga record transfer fee, signing a four-year contract. He replaced Luca Toni as the focal point of Bayern’s attack.

NIGHTMARE

Louis van Gaal overlooked all his four world class strikers (Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni, Ivica Olic and Mario Gomez) when he became coach of Bayern.Too bad for Toni, Klose and Olic and especially for the rather expensive Gomez.Van Gaal played with the fledgling Thomas Muller in the point of attack and won games withe 2010 FIFA Wold Cup goal king.Gomez was not scoring like his usual self in his first season for Bayern with just 10 goals but in the cup he was more prolific with 3 goals in just four games.He usually came off the bench,the main season why he failed to deliver. His poor first season can also be due to the pressure at Bayern.

As a new  Bayern striker, you will be immediately compared with legends like Gerd Muller,Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Giovanni Elber, Makaay and JeanPierre Papin.A Bayern striker is always judged by the number of goals he scores,something which Gomez failed to do.Not only Gomez questioned Van Gaal’s decision.Hoeness also questioned  why the likes of Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Martin Demichelis had not played a bigger role that season.

Anfield side Liverpool had asked to take Gomez on a season-long loan but his wages of £125,000 a week were a huge stumbling block. A £16m bid was lined up, and, one year after leaving Stuttgart for around £30m, Gómez was days away from calling time on a disappointing Bayern career.

The club refused to make a £15m loss on one of Germany’s most prolific strikers. Manager Christian Nerlinger refused to let him go.With Liverpool reduced to rejoicing over a Carling Cup victory and Bayern finishing the season as Champions League runners up, it was a very wise decision by the Bayern board.Bayern, have learnt their lesson after letting Mats Hummels go to Dortmund in 2008, and seeing him beat them to the title three years later, were very insightful when they decided to hang on to Gómez. He has repaid them for their loyalty with goals while his nicknames, from Super Mario to Gomessi, may constantly change.

LAUGHING STOCK

Just like in Bayern,Gomez was just a team player in Die Mannschaft.After Gómez impressed in pre-tournament friendlies, Joachim Löw called him up to the German squad for Euro 2008. Löw broke up the strike partnership of Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose with Podolski moving out to the left wing at the expense of midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and Gómez partnering Klose up front. Unfortunately, he was not able to reproduce his club form and missed several clear-cut chances including a crucial one in the last group match against Austria and thus lost his place in the fist team. Löw reverted back to the Podolski-Klose partnership.

Maybe he could not beat Austrian goalkeeper Jurgen Macho because of the number at the back of his shirt.Gomez had number 9 at the back of his shirt because 3 was already taken (defender Arne Friedrich) .It’s very uncommon to see a striker with that jersey number but in Ghana,Asamoah Gyan has been playing with that jersey number for yeas.Michael Ballack got his usual number 13 and reserve goalkeeper Rene Adler took the 23 shirt .After that game in Vienna,Gomez did not play again until he came off the bench in the final for Miroslav Klose but could not prevent Germany from losing 1–0 to Spain.

Gomez earned a new nickname because of his misses against Austria:Chancentod. The worst day in his short international career.In a friendly match against the United Arab Emirates played in 2009, Gomez netted four goals, ending his 15-game goal drought for the national team,in Germany’s 7–2 thrashing.The curse had been broken

He featured in four out of seven German matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, all from the substitutes bench.Again he did not score a goal at a major tournament.Scoring for Germany became an obsession.That’s why it took so long for him to score.

It was pay back time on June 3,2011 in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna.It was a repeat of the Germany- Austria game,but this time it was  a Euro 2012 qualifier.Chancentod had returned to his graveyard.Gomez scored two goals against Austria in Germany’s 2–1 away win, netting into the very same goal in which despite good goalscoring opportunities he couldn’t score three years earlier during Euro 2008.

Although being the second choice behind Miroslav Klose as center-forward during Germany’s qualification for Euro 2012, Gomez played regularly and contributed goals against every opponent of that campaign.He scored against Azerbaijan and Turkey in the subsequent games. He ended Belgium’s hopes of qualifying for Poland and Ukraine by scoring Germany’s third goal in their 3-0 win.

KERMIT THE FROG

After an erratic first season at Bayern with 10 goals in 29 league appearances (in which he scored in five successive top-flight games before Christmas − plus three in the German Cup − in total during the club’s double-winning campaign),Gómez established himself as a starter during the 2010–11 season (to an extent at the expense of Miroslav Klose and due to the injury sustained by Ivica Olić). Bayern Munich began their second season under Van Gaal on a very bad note and that gave the ‘cursed’ striker the chance to shine.He did not disappoint at all.Bayern’s performances were not that convincing but Super Mario kept scoring for the Bavarian club.Step by step he was rediscovering his Vfb Stuttgart form.He could not stop scoring!That’s Gomez at his best.He never seems worried if he misses a chance because he knows he will score the next one.

But Gomez was fully released from ‘prison’ when Van Gaal’s Audi was last seen at Säbener Strasse on 10th April,2011.The 60-year old former two-time Barcelona coach was sacked as coach of Bayern Munich after a 1-1 draw at Nurnberg. Bayern’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge explained that there had been no alternative but to part company with Van Gaal while president Uli Hoeness said it was a decision which was a long time in coming.It all started getting messy when Van Gaal dropped Hans-Jorg Butt and replaced him with Thomas Kraft.Hoeness blamed Van Gaal for the crowd protests , saying the Dutchman’s opposition to the planned bid for Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had created divisions in the club.

Gomez’ tormentor was gone.The weight had been lifted off his shoulders.Freed from the strict master Van Gaal,Super Mario scored 9 times in the last 5 games under interim-manager (Van Gaal’s assistant) Andries Jonker.Super Mario finished as top goalscorer in the Bundesliga with 28 goals.He scored his 100th Bundesliga goal with his third strike in a 1–8 away victory over FC St. Pauli, the hat-trick already being his fifth in the Bundesliga in the 2010/11 season, and his sixth overall, adding to his hat-trick against Cluj in the Champions League. Gomez has scored 13 hat-tricks in his Bundesliga career, three with Stuttgart and ten with Bayern. Gomez also netted eight times in the Champions League.He scored 39 goals in all competitions that season.

Jonker’s successor was Jupp Heynckes,Germany’s striker in the 60’s and 70’s.He spoke of his confidence in Gomez when he arrived at Bayern Munich.He was a Gomez-type of striker in his hey days so it was no surprise Super Mario was going to be his number one striker.It was a complete new adventure in Munich for Gomez.Three yeas ago,he began the season with the notion that the coach did not like him.That’s not a good way to stat a football season.But Gomez never gave up because he knew that no position was permanent. And it has happened now.

Gomez did not have the best of starts under Jupp Heynckes.He failed to score in his first 3 games.Superstitious Gomez blamed his football boots for the poor performances.His sponsors Puma gave him a new pair,light green boots.Thus earning the nickname Kermit de Frosch (Kermit the Frog),but still no goals for the superstitious striker.

After those games,Gomez performed a ritual to end his goal drought. He wore his old boots again by putting on the left one  first.It had an immediate impact as he opened his league account in Bayern’s thrashing of Hamburger SV,then scored a hat-trick away to Kaiserslautern and netted four goals in Bayern Munich’s 7–0 thrashing of Freiburg.Thus sealing four straight wins for the Bavarians and a return to the top of the Bundesliga table.And all those goals came during the time selfish Arjen obben was injured.It was no coincidence.With Muller and Ribery on the flanks Gomez was a beast.It is very difficult for a striker to play with Robben because the latter always seeks for personal glory.Muller and Ribery on the other hand fed Gomez with so many balls.

The striker also netted two first half goals as Bayern defeated Manchester City 2-0 in the group stages of the Champions League, a game infamously remembered for which City striker Carlos Tevez reportedly refused to play.Gomez netted a hat-trick in a UEFA Champions League group stage game against Serie A club Napoli.Gómez fired in 13 Champions League goals in 14 appearances and 26 in the Bundesliga.

He has become Bayern Munich’s main target man,something Van Gaal wanted to see.

60 MILLION STRIKER

With his incredible goal-scoring form,Gomez has become a hot cake in the European transfer market.Manchester City wanted to buy him in January for 60 million euros. According to English tabloid Daily Star Chelsea also wanted him.Spanish clubs are also interested in the striker who equalled Dado Pršo’s record for the quickest four-goal haul in the Champions League (23 minutes).

Jupp Heynckes does not want Gómez to join Madrid because he thinks Bayern is a better side than Madrid.And the coach was right as Gomez scored the winning goal in Bayern’s 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final clash.Bayern went on to win the tie 3–1 on penalties after the teams were deadlocked 3–3 on aggregate.

His ability to appear at the right place at the right time proved to be one of Bayern’s most lethal attacking weapons as Ribéry and Robben out-run defenders and provided crosses for Gomez.Gomez recently signed a new contract with Bayern Munich, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2016.

EURO 2012 REDEMPTION

Gomez has a diffuse relationship to his nationality and roots, with two hearts beating in his chests. When it comes to playing for the national team, however, he chose to play for Germany.Prior to the Euro 2012 in a 3–3 draw against Ukrain,Gomez captained Germany for the first time. It was his 50th international cap.

Mario Gomez’s late header in Lviv against Portugal made it 1-0 to ensure Germany made a winning start to their Euro 2012 campaign in Poland-Ukraine.He then went on to score twice against the Netherlands in Germany’s second game in the Group of Death , making it 3 goals in 2 games.This is a player who has always scored goals but never been feted as a great player.

The in-form German striker  claims he is more appreciated in Spain than in his home country.Gomez, whose grandfather is Spanish goes into the Group B decider with Denmark on Sunday still bitter about criticism over missed chances for Bayern Munich in the Champions League final against Chelsea.Germany need a draw in Lviv to guarantee a quarter-finals place and must hope 26-year-old Gomez shows why he is tipped for the Euro 2012 Golden Boot.The Dutch should pray Gomez finds the back of the net against Olsen’s gang.

Gomez has finally been redeemed from the curse.
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