Germany's golden generation star Muller could have big role in Qatar

Thomas Muller is the LAST outfield star standing from Germany’s golden generation of 2010… from lifting the World Cup in Brazil to being axed by Joachim Low, the veteran Bayern Munich star could still have a vital role to play in Qatar

  • Germany’s golden generation emerged at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa
  • Thomas Muller won the Golden Boot and helped them to glory in Brazil in 2014
  • He was axed from the squad by Joachim Low though returned before Euro 2020
  • Muller, 33, will be one of Germany’s older stars during the World Cup in Qatar
  • Expectations are not high for Germany after their struggles in recent years
  • Muller could have a big role to play if Germany are to pull off another surprise 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

England’s 4-1 defeat to Germany at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was a bitter pill to swallow for the Three Lions.

They were kicked out of the tournament, Frank Lampard scored a goal which never was, but more painfully, it was the realisation that they were brutally outclassed by Germany’s new golden generation.

Talents like Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer and Sami Khedira emerged out of the shadows, and the squad combined the perfect blend of youth and experience, with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Phillip Lahm taking the young stars under their wings.

Germany’s golden generation emerged at the 2010 World Cup but fell short of a final appearance after losing to Spain in a game where Thomas Muller was suspended

Muller won the Golden Boot in South Africa with six goals, and 12 years later, is the last outfield player standing from Germany’s golden generation which emerged in 2010

South Africa 2010 was too soon for Germany’s up-and-coming squad, but they delivered on their potential by lifting the trophy in Brazil four years later.

Heading into Qatar this winter, there are just two players left from that 2010 tournament. Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer and his team-mate Muller – who is the last man standing of the outfield players from South Africa. 

Ozil caught the eyes for his performances in South Africa, but it was Muller who ended up taking the Golden Boot with six goals, and was a huge miss as he was suspended for their semi-final defeat to Spain after receiving two yellow cards in the tournament. 

Muller scored four goals in 2014 as Germany went on to win the World Cup in Brazil

Muller then went on to add four more goals as they won the tournament in Brazil. 

Since then it has been a rocky road for Muller, with a disappointing 2018 World Cup in Russia, before he was then axed by Joachim Low who wanted to look at younger players going forward.

Low reversed his decision ahead of Euro 2020, as it was still obvious that Muller was too important of a player to be left out of the conversation altogether.  

The former Germany manager’s stance on Muller is probably fitting of public opinion towards the Bayern Munich star during his career. He was often pointed out as the tall, gangly forward, who people were unsure of what he brought despite producing important goals and moments in matches regularly throughout his career.  

With 229 goals for the Bundesliga side and a further 44 for his country, it’s clear the huge impact he has had over the years in what has been a legendary – albeit underrated – career.   

The fact that he has outlasted the likes of Ozil, Khedira, and Toni Kroos stands as a true testament for how he has looked after himself throughout his career. 

Joachim Low axed Muller from the squad in 2019 as he wanted to look towards the future

Realising his mistake, Muller was later recalled by Low ahead of the Euro 2020 competition

While others have declined, he is still almost as good now as he was a decade ago. That’s despite his game changing over the years.

Last year he scored just 13 goals in 45 games across all competitions, but it was his 25 assists that ranks up there with any player across Europe. Though Bayern have not had the best start this season, he has still contributed to six goals (two goals and four assists) in 12 appearances.

It’s for that reason he could have a vital part to play, at what could be his last World Cup given he’s now 33 years old.

Germany’s golden generation consisting of Muller came in the aftermath of their dismal display at Euro 2000, in which they lost every game.

The country’s football association, the DFB, were forced into a complete overhaul of youth football. In a collective decision, the DFB, along with Bundesliga sides, decided they would attempt to invest and place trust in the development of home grown players.

They quickly set about upgrading youth facilities, employing more coaches and putting trust in ‘smaller’ players who were once deemed not strong enough to complete physically.

Germany perhaps overachieved to make the final at the 2002 World Cup, and did well to reach the semi-finals in 2006, but it was 2010 when the fruits of their labour really began to emerge with the likes of Muller and co. 

While other players of Germany’s golden generation have seen their talents diminish, Muller is still playing at a high level and got a staggering 25 assists in all competitions last season

Despite showing tactical and technical innovation during the 2010 South African World Cup, there was an acceptance that it came too soon. 

They were narrowly edged out in the semi-finals to eventual winners, Spain. Nevertheless, they went on to win the third place play-off game, further evidence that the Germans were heading in the right direction.  

Muller also went on to grab the tournament’s Golden Boot as well as being awarded the best young player.

Four years later, through continual growth and belief in the system, Low finally had built a team that was ready. Years of meticulous preparation and planning led to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 

The strong, almost invincible mentality had returned; so confident of reaching the end of the competition, the German Football Association booked hotels in Rio in the expectation of reaching the final before a ball was even kicked.

There were some incredible performances, including the famous 7-1 victory over hosts Brazil in which Muller had a big part to play, scoring the opening goal.

Germany went on to beat Argentina 1-0 in the final, and Muller was named in the shortlist for the player of the tournament, and added a Silver Boot to his 2010 Golden Boot.

Muller could have a big role to play for Hansi Flick’s (left) German team this winter in Qatar

Perhaps in the period between 2010 to 2016, some may argue that Germany could have had more silverware than a solitary World Cup. 

Appearing in numerous semi-finals, Germany often faltered at the final hurdle. Yet, as players are now coming to the end on the international stage, they have helped a nation reach the pinnacle of football, whilst staying true to their principles throughout.

By 2019, Low axed Muller along with Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, saying Germany needed to look to the future. But in reflection it was the wrong decision, as today, Muller can be what Schweinsteiger and Lahm were for Germany back in 2010 by helping to balance out the experience and youth.

Looking to Qatar, it could be a tough tournament for Germany if you take into consideration their recent Nations League struggles.

However, they have had a knack of overachieving and Muller could have a big role to play if they are to pull off another surprise when the tournament begins. 

Where Germany’s 2010 World Cup squad are now 

Manuel Neuer (aged 36) – Still playing for Bayern Munich and Germany – 113 caps

Marcell Jansen (36) – Retired at the age of 29 in 2015 and is now president of former club Hamburg

Arne Freidrich (43) – Retired in 2013 and is part of the board at Hertha Berlin – 82 caps

Dennis Aogo (35) – Retired in 2020, hadn’t played for the national team since 2013 and is a TV pundit for Sky Sports Deutschland – 12 caps

Serdar Tasci (35) – Retired in 2019, didn’t make an appearance for his country since the 2010 World Cup – 14 caps

Sami Khedira (35) – Retired last year after most recently playing for Hertha Berlin. Made his last Germany appearance in 2018 – 77 caps

Bastian Schweinsteiger (38) – Retired in 2019 and makes occasional TV punditry appearances – last played for Germany in 2016 – 121 caps

Mesut Ozil (33) – Now plays for Istanbul Basaksehir and last played for Germany in 2018 after a falling out with the country’s football federation – 92 caps

Stefan Kießling (38) – Retired in 2018 and took up administrative work at former club Bayer Leverkusen. Last played for Germany in 2010 – six caps

 Lukas Podolski (37) – Now plays for Gornik Zabrze and last played for his country in 2017 – 130 caps

Miroslav Klose (44) – Retired in 2016 and now manages Austrian side Rheindorf Altach. Retired from international football one month after 2014 World Cup triumph – 137 caps

Tim Wiese (40) – Retired in 2017 and had a short spell in the world of wrestling, working as part of the WWE’s NXT brand before leaving after several months – six caps

Holger Badstuber (33) – Retired from football last month after most recently playing for Swiss club FC Luzern. Last played for Germany in 2015 – 31 caps 

Piotr Trochowski (38) – Retired in July 2021 after last playing for Hamburg’s third team – 35 caps

Phillip Lahm (38) – Retired in 2017 and was named honourary ambassador for Germany’s bid to host Euro 2024

Per Mertesacker (38) – Retired in 2018 and is currently the manager of Arsenal’s academy. Last played for Germany in 2014 – 104 caps

Toni Kroos (32) – Plays for Real Madrid and retired from international football after Germany’s defeat to England at Euro 2020 – 106 caps

Cacau (41) – Retired in 2016 and last featured for Germany in the qualifiers for Euro 2012 – 23 caps

Jerome Boateng (34) – Plays for Lyon and hasn’t played for Germany since Joachim Low axed Boateng, Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels from the team in 2019 – 76 caps

Marko Marin (33) – Retired earlier this year after most recently playing for Saudi Arabian side Al Ahli Saudi FC. Was never selected for Germany again after the 2010 World Cup

Hans-Jorg Butt (48) – Retired in 2012 and briefly held a role as head of Bayern Munich’s junior team. Last featured for Germany in the third-placed playoff at the 2010 World Cup.

Mario Gomez (37) – Retired in 2020 and briefly worked as a commentator. Last appeared for Germany in 2018 – 78 caps

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