Germany has had the most success in major tournaments of any European country. While Italy has a 4-3 advantage in World Cup victories, Germany has three European Championship titles to the Italians’ one. This summer, they travel to Brazil as one of the favourites to win. Further with a large majority of the starting lineup. It was drawn from the successful squads of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in recent seasons. To continue our countdown to the World Cup, Sports Mole looks at the top ten German footballers in history.
Top Ten German Footballers in History
Miroslav Klose (2001-present, 131 caps, 68 goals)
Gerd Muller seemed to find the back of the net with such ease for Germany. Further, it appeared that no player would ever come close to breaking his 68-goal record. On the other hand, Klose has blown that theory out of the water in recent years. And the Lazio center-forward needs just one goal to become German footballers’ all-time leading goalscorer.
What’s more impressive is the number of important goals he’s scored. Like Muller, he has 14 World Cup goals to his name, with only the Brazilian Ronaldo having more. On the other hand, Klose is the only player who has scored four or more goals in three tournaments.
Trophies may have eluded him at the international level. But he has enjoyed success with Bayern Munich. With Further won both the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal twice. Klose was named German Footballers of the Year in 2006, among other accolades.
Paul Breitner (1971-1982, 48 caps, ten goals)
Despite playing primarily as a defender, Breitner had the welcome ability to chip in with crucial goals. In the 1974 World Cup final. He equalized from the penalty spot against the Netherlands, setting the German footballers on their way to a 2-1 victory.
He also scored against Italy eight years later. Further becoming only the fourth player.Along with Pele, Vava, and Zinedine Zidane. It was to do so in two World Cup finals. Though it wasn’t enough to prevent Germany from losing 3-1.
Breitner is one of Germany’s most decorated club players. With Bayern Munich, he won five Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal, one European Cup, two La Liga titles, and one Copa del Rey during his three-year stint with Real Madrid.
Jurgen Klinsmann (1987-1998, 108 caps, 47 goals)
Between Euro ’88 and France ’98, the centre-forward appeared in six major tournaments, scoring at least one goal in each of them. In fact, in four of those competitions, he scored three or more times.
He was perhaps most influential during Germany’s triumph in Italia ’90 when he scored three goals on their way to the final. During the showpiece match, he was fouled by Pedro Monzon, reducing the Argentines to ten men.
Klinsmann not only shone for Germany, but he also played for some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs. He was a member of the German trio that helped Inter Milan win the UEFA Cup in 1991, along with Lothar Matthaus and Andreas Brehme, and he also scored as Bayern Munich won the same competition five years later. He also spent two seasons with Tottenham Hotspur, where he scored 29 goals in 56 appearances.
Uwe Seeler (1954-1970, 72 caps, 43 goals)
Seeler, a one-club man, spent his entire career with Hamburg’s hometown club. His devotion was rewarded with victories in the German Championship in 1960 and the DFB-Pokal in 1963. Seeler scored all three of his team’s goals in the final against Borussia Dortmund.
Furthermore, Seeler was the leading goalscorer in the inaugural Bundesliga season of 1963-64, scoring 30 goals in as many games.
Despite his clinical touch for the German national team, Die Mannschaft did not win any of the four World Cups in which he participated. He came closest in 1966 when he captained West Germany to the final, but they were defeated by hosts England in extra time.
Fritz Walter (1940-1958, 61 caps, 33 goals)
Walter, like Seeler, spent his entire career in the city of his birth, in this case, Kaiserslautern. His goals contributed significantly to Die Roten Teufel’s victories in the German Championships in 1951 and 1953.
However, his crowning achievement came in 1954, when he captained West Germany to their first World Cup victory in Switzerland. Playing upfront with his brother Ottmar, they became the tournament’s first siblings to win.
His contribution to German footballers was recognized in 2004 at the UEFA Jubilee Awards when he was named the country’s most outstanding player of the previous 50 years.
Sepp Maier (1966-1979, 95 caps, no goals)
Known as ‘The Cat,’ Maier was widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world during the 1970s. He kept four clean sheets as the hosts won the World Cup for the second time, defeating a Johan Cruyff-inspired Dutch side.
He also kept goal two years earlier in Belgium, when Germany won the European Championships for the first time in their history, including a shutout in the 3-0 victory over the Soviet Union.
The now 70-year-old German Footballers of the Year three times spent his entire professional club career with Bayern Munich. During his 19 years with the club, he made nearly 400 consecutive appearances and won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal four times. The goalkeeper also had three chances to win the European Cup.
Lothar Matthaus (1980-2002, 150 caps, 23 goals)
During the 1986 World Cup final. Matthaus was assigned to man-mark Diego Maradona. But he was eventually given the runaround by the Argentine maestro. He is who went on to inspire his country to victory.
On the other hand, Matthaus got his revenge four years later in Italy. Germany faced the Argentines again in the final, but they prevailed with a 1-0 victory this time. During the tournament, Midfielder Matthaus scored four goals and converted his penalty in the semi-final shootout against England.
The German record appearance maker also had a lot of success at the club level, winning trophies with Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, and the Metrostars in the United States.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (1976-1986, 95 caps, 45 goals)
Rummenigge, following in the footsteps of Walter, Seeler, and Muller. Further ensuring that Germany’s clinical instincts in the attack were maintained. Throughout his decade on the international stage.
The 58-year-old scored nine goals in three World Cup appearances, including a hat-trick against South American outfit Chile in 1982.
After quitting his job in a bank to join Bayern Munich in 1974, he went on to become the club’s second-leading goalscorer of all time, trailing only Muller. In 1980 and 1981, his performances for club and country earned him the coveted Ballon d’Or.
Gerd Muller (1966-1974, 62 caps, 68 goals)
There aren’t many goalscoring records that Muller doesn’t already own. The notorious goal-poacher shares Germany’s record with Klose, albeit in far fewer appearances.
Furthermore, his 566 goals make him Bayern Munich’s all-time leading goalscorer, and he has the best goals-to-games ratio in European Cup history, having scored 35 times in the same number of games.
The stocky centre-forward scored ten goals in the 1970 World Cup, including hat-tricks against Bulgaria and Peru. That year, his exploits earned him the Ballon d’Or award before he helped Germany win Euro 72, scoring a brace in both the semi-finals and final. He finished his international career with four goals (one in the final) as West Germany won the 1974 World Cup.
Franz Beckenbauer (1965-1977, 103 caps, 14 goals)
Normally, a player with Muller’s goalscoring record would be chosen first. But this honour goes to a man who mastered the sweeper position – Beckenbauer. Few would argue that the 78-year-old is the best defender to have ever played the game because he is tactically aware and comfortable in possession.
After finishing second and third in the World Cups in 1966 and 1970. The Kaiser’ finally got his hands on the trophy in 1974. Then, in 1990, he became only the second man in history to win the World Cup. As both a player and a manager, guiding Germany to victory in Italy.
Like many Germans of the time, he achieved the majority of his success with Bayern Munich, where he won four Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokals, and three European Cups.
Germany will face Portugal, and Ghana. And the United States is in the World Cup group stages this summer, and you can watch every match live on Sports Mole. Tomorrow, as we continue our 50-day countdown to the tournament, we will look at the greatest players in Ghana’s history. Click here to see all of the World Cup top ten lists thus far.