How do you quantify who the greatest of all time is in sports?
What are the defining factors of one of the most consistently nagging questions in sports? Should more weight be placed on statistics? Is it about stepping up on the biggest stage?
When it comes to soccer the argument typically comes down to just three players, Brazil’s Pele and Argentina’s Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. But while these players stand as the epitome of the sport, none of them can claim what Miroslav Klose can.
The German striker stands alone with the most goals scored in the World Cup all time, with 16 goals to his name.
On Monday morning, the 36-year-old Klose announced his retirement from international soccer, coming just over a month after breaking the record.
Klose said in a statement that he was proud of what the team had achieved during his time as an international player.
“I am happy and proud to have contributed to this big success for German football,” Klose said.
German manager Joachim Low said he talked with Klose, and that the choice to retire had not come easy to him.
“When I met up with Miro (Klose) last week, he told me he had thought long about it and talked to his family,” Low said according to BBC Sport.
Klose took part in the last four tournaments for Germany, helping them to a title in 2014, two third place finishes in 2010 and 2006 and second place in 2002. Klose also said in the statement that “winning the title in Brazil was a childhood dream come true.”
Breaking the record in the semifinal match against Brazil this summer, with the second of seven goals the Germans would score against the host, Klose passed Brazilian great Ronaldo to become the top goalscorer at the World Cup.
Low said Klose’s decision doesn’t seem to be one that is likely to change, and that the star won’t change his mind in the future.
“I immediately sensed that his decision was irreversible and that I cannot convince him otherwise,” Low said according to BBC Sport. “You can always count on Miro (Klose) to keep his word and that was the case in Brazil as well.”
Few would argue that Klose was the greatest goalscorer of all time in the World Cup. Often players such as Ronaldo, who was a better all around striker, and Just Fontaine, who scored 13 goals in just six games in 1958, will take the title from the German.
There are even those who would deny Klose the title of the greatest German striker of all time, with Gerd Muller and Jurgen Klinsmann both making a case.
No matter what the pundits and plaudits might say though, Klose stands alone atop the goal scoring charts. Even if countrymen Thomas Muller, who sits on 10 goals after two tournaments and is just 24, ends up breaking the record, no one can take away from what Klose has done.
In a country that boasts some of the greatest and most influential players of all time, Klose stands in the elite group that will exist in legends by those who saw him play.