Euro 2012: Rejuvenated Mario Gomez mining rich form for Germans

German striker Mario Gomez may be joint top scorer at Euro 2012 but he does not have fond memories either of Euro 2008 or the 2010 World Cup, scoring at neither event.

Updated: June 27, 2012 23:14 IST
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Warsaw: German striker Mario Gomez may be joint top scorer at Euro 2012 but he does not have fond memories either of Euro 2008 or the 2010 World Cup, scoring at neither event.

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Yet the German-born son of a Spanish father has finally broken his goals duck at a major tournament as he continues to draw inspiration from the 2010 rescue of Chilean miners trapped at the bottom of a deep shaft.

One of those rescued was his namesake, a 63-year-old who helped rally the spirits of the 33 men trapped in the mine at San Jose de Copiapo.

Gomez had not long beforehand moved from Stuttgart, where he won a league title, to Bayern Munich where he was expected to blossom into a major star.

But although he had scored on his debut for Germany a year earlier in a friendly win over Switzerland, he had a miserable tournament at Euro 2008.

Joachim Loew's side reached the final before losing to Spain - for whom he could have played, having dual citizenship.

He missed several good chances and failed to hit the target throughout prompting the bewildered striker to reveal: "I asked myself what was happening to me."

His form also dipped for a while at Bayern under Luis van Gaal and there was talk of letting go of the man who had cost the club 30 million euros.

But his inspiration then returned - and he credits watching the miners' saga on television and seeing his namesake and colleagues rescued one by one in dramatic fashion from the bowels of the Earth.

"My motto in life is never give up - it's always worth trying to keep going forward. That's what the miners felt to a greater extent than any of us. Football is an activity which requires a lot of resistence and yet you need that for life in general."

Gomez, who scored the winner against Portugal and then netted a brace against Holland, is hoping to help the Germans end a 16-year streak without a major tournament victory as a young side nurtured carefully by Loew gradually matures.

Looking back to the miners' saga, he saw a positive omen.

"There were 33 miners rescued - I wear shirt number 33 and I scored three goals, which are a sign of destiny" he said after ending a six-month drought for Bayern with a hat-trick against Hannover.

"When I saw that one of the first miners brought to the surface was called Mario Gomez, I knew that it was going to be my match," said Gomez, whose ancestors worked in mines in Granada, southern Spain.

He only had started off with the number 33, which would later prove so fortuitous, when as a youngster he found there was none other available before an under-15 match in which, needless to say, he scored.

After the Hannover game, there was another coincidence in the numbers game, he recently recalled.

"When I looked at my cell phone in the dressing room afterwards, I had 33 messages congratulating me," he told German television.

From then on his star began to rise with Bayern, who by that stage needed his services all the more following injuries to rival strikers Miroslav Klose, Arjen Robben and Ivica Olic.

Gomez's form has since been enough to keep him in favour and it was Klose who ultimately moved on, at the age of 33, to Lazio last season for a new challenge.

Gomez also finished with 12 goals in Bayern's run to the Champions League final, where they lost at their own Allianz Arena to Chelsea as he failed to add to his account.

But his form here suggests the Germans have a good chance of ending their trophy drought.

In the meantime, German Chancellor and committed Mannschaft fan Angela Merkel will also be looking out for Gomez, having taken one of the striker's Bayern shirts over to Chile on a visit in October 2010 to give to President Sebastian Pinera - though she explained he was to hand it on to Mario Gomez Heredia, the miner.

After finding his way back to form, Gomez now has the chance to go for the accolade of top scorer at Euro 2012 - though first he must ensure he has his shooting boots on for a tough semi-final on Thursday against Italy.

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