When Mario Goetze entered the World Cup final in the 88th minute, he already had some big shoes to fill. He was replacing Miroslaz Klose, who happens to be the tournament’s all-time leading scorer. But Germany’s coach, Joachim Loew, wanted Goetze to think bigger. At halftime, he had given Goetze the most ambitious of marching orders.
“I said to Mario, ‘Okay, show to the world that you are better than Messi and you can decide the World Cup,’ ” Loew said.
Well, normally that would be a tall order. Hey kid, just go in there and be a superior performer to the world’s best player in the most important game of either of your lives. Uh, okay, Coach.
But wouldn’t you know, Goetze was better. At least where it ultimately counts the most: putting the ball in the net. The German substitute’s nifty volley in the 113th minute became the game’s only goal, and the margin by which his team took the most coveted trophy in sports. Goetze 1, Messi 0.
The goal also made Loew look very good, similar to how Netherlands Coach Louis van Gaal brought in goalkeeper Tim Krul late in their match against Costa Rica; Krul emerged the hero after making a pair of saves in the deciding shootout.
“I had a good feeling with him,” said Loew about Goetze. Apparently so, although not as good a feeling as the baby-faced 22-year-old had after he scored. Goetze described his feeling as “unbelievable,” and one can believe that. After all, Goetze had not just won the World Cup for his country, he had done his coach’s express bidding and topped a legend in his own time.