LOS PHENOMENOS #4: MARIO GOTZE – Bayern Munich/Germany


Andrew Davidson unveils a rising star from each Brazil 2014 squad that is set to grace our TV screens in June – number four is Germany’s Mario Gotze.


AGE:  21   POSITION:  Attacking Midfielder

CAPS:  27   GOALS:  7

CLUB:  Bayern Munich (Germany)

Mario Götze is a player who you feel should be older.  Since bursting onto the scene with Borussia Dortmund back in 2009 he has gone from strength to strength, playing vital roles for every team he has been named in.  He was called up to the senior international squad in 2010, and went on to win the Bundesliga title three years in a row – twice with Dortmund, and a third with Bayern Munich.

Yet the prodigiously talented man from Memmingen is still only 21 years old, and has probably some of his best football still ahead of him.  It is a remarkable fact and just shows the huge amount of talent, and the enormous expectation, which surrounds Götze.

German legend Matthias Sammer has described the creative midfielder as “one of the best talents that (Germany’s) ever had,” and he has proven as much on many occasions.  When Bayern broke the bank (and briefly the record fee paid fro any German) last year to meet the €37 million clause in the players Dortmund contract, not an eyebrow was raised – the kid was worth it.

Götze joined Dortmund way back in 2001, at just 8 years old, and worked his way through the ranks steadily.  At 17 he made his debut for the first team in the league and by the end of that season, manager Jürgen Klopp had promoted him to full-time member of the senior squad.

Pace and energy marked Götze out immediately, and a growing confidence soon saw him displaying his superb dribbling and creative skills.  Technically excellent, a product of Dortmund’s fine youth system, the youngster was more than happy on the ball and showed great character to take on possession and create chances for those around him.

Playing a major part in Dortmunds dominance during the 2010-11 season, scoring eight goals on his way to a first ever league title, Götze found himself on the bench for Germany – making his debut as a 78th minute substitute in a friendly against Sweden.  He became the youngest international for the Nationalmannschaft since Uwe Seeler in 1954.  He also became one of the first players, alongside André Schürrle, to feature having been born within the reunified Germany.

He capped off this impressive first full season by becoming Germany’s joint-youngest goal scorer in the post-war era (at 19 years and 68 days), notching his first international goal in a game against Brazil in August 2011.

The 2011-12 season was a mixed bag for the young star – impressive early performances were hampered by a hip injury which ruled him out from January til April.  He rejoined the team in time to round off the season, finishing with 6 league goals in 17 appearances, and more importantly got to play a part in a fantastic league and cup double for the club.  Dortmund recorded 81 points that season, a Bundesliga record, and the young playmaker had a big hand in their total control over the rest of the league.

The following season was a disappointment on many levels for Götze; although Dortmund again played some sublime football, their rivals Bayern Munich came back strong and romped away with the league title.  Dortmund hoped for revenge when the two met in the Champions League final, however Götze was ruled out through injury and could only watch as his side lost 201 to a late Arjen Robben strike.

The loss was made bittersweet by the fact that Bayern had made official their signing of Götze in April a month before the date of the final.  Dortmund fans were outraged at the poaching of their star man, and lengthy protests were made to the club and to the player.  In the end the desire to play under Pep Guardiola had swayed the young players’ mind, and the 2013 season would give no doubts that he had made the right decision.

He has contributed 10 assists and 12 goals to the champions’ title defence – one which they wrapped up in record-setting early fashion.  The title-winning party came in March, thanks to a 3-1 win over Hertha BSC and a goal from Götze.  At time of writing the club look well placed to also retain the Champions League trophy, possibly becoming the first team to do this in the modern era.

Throughout all of his club escapades, Götze has maintained a strong presence in the national team.  27 appearances so far have led to 7 goals – five of those coming in competitive fixtures.  He will have high hopes of earning a starting berth in the team in Brazil.

Group G should not present too much of a threat for the heavily-fancied German team.  Portugal have the irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo in the arsenal, however neither they nor Ghana and the USA squads will strike fear into Joachim Low’s men.  The three-time World Cup winners have rebuilt themselves from the ground up in recent years, and the fresh, innovative and creative style can cause problems for any team.

With Mario Götze creating chances from midfield, and a wealth of experienced options around him, Germany could well produce something spectacular this summer.  The only question then would be, with just about every major trophy under his belt by the age of 22, just what might the youngster achieve next?


Click Andrew’s name above to follow him on Twitter