A member of the German national team since 2009, Mesut Özil gained international attention during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and was nominated for the Golden Ball Award, which is awarded to the tournament's best player. Following his breakout performance at that World Cup, he was transferred from Werder Bremen to Real Madrid in August 2010.
Özil is acclaimed for his finesse and improvisation as an attacking midfielder, combining great awareness and superb ball control. His style and knack for providing assists for his team-mates has been compared to that of Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane.
Assistant coach of Germany, Hans-Dieter Flick once said, "We are proud to have him in our team. When he has the ball, you can feel the excitement and astonishment among the fans."
Though highly successful in club football, it was his appearances for the national team that made Lothar Matthäus famous. The most capped German player of all time, he retired with a total of 150 appearances spanning 20 years, from 1980, and scored 23 goals.
Matthäus was voted FIFA World Player of the Year in 1990 and 1991, and in 1990 he was also named European Player of the Year, acknowledgement of his outstanding performances for club and country.
The West Germany victory in the 1990 World Cup marked without doubt the pinnacle of the defensive midfield player’s career. The German captain scored five goals and was voted player of the tournament.
He holds the appearance record for an outfield player at World Cup finals after playing in five tournaments.
A versatile and complete player, Matthäus was renowned for his perceptive passing, positional sense, well-timed tackling, as well as powerful shooting. During his career, he usually played as a box-to-box midfielder, although late in his career he played as a sweeper. His excellent shooting skills also made him very dangerous in front of goal. He hit the target 23 times in internationals.
The German was admired for his strong will, forthright opinions and readiness to lead a team. “I admire Platini. I admire Maradona. But to win, I need Matthäus.” commented Giovanni Trapattoni, Italy’s most successful coach, with whom Matthäus worked with on a number of occasions.
In his autobiography Diego Maradona said of Matthäus, "he is the best rival I've ever had. I guess that's enough to define him".
Gerhard "Gerd" Müller never fitted the conventional idea of a great footballer, but he had lethal acceleration over short distances, a remarkable aerial game, and uncanny goalscoring instincts.
At the 1974 World Cup he scored the winning goal in the 2–1 victory over the Netherlands in the final, this following his winning goals for West Germany in the 1972 European Championships.
Nicknamed 'Der Bomber' for obvious reasons, the Bayern Munich predator scored 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games and 68 times in 62 internationals, milestones no other player is ever likely to equal.
Müller is now tenth on the list of all time international goalscorers despite playing fewer matches than every other player in the top 25.
The golden era for the West German national team and its domestic league during the early to mid-1970s would have been unthinkable without Muller, as his former team-mate Franz Beckenbauer is quick to underline: "Everything that FC Bayern has become is due to Gerd Muller and his goals."
He is considered the original uncompromising striker like no other professional footballer, putting his all into somehow getting the ball into the back of the opponents' net. He will never be remembered as the most skillful, but as a prolific striker there is no comparison.
Fellow World Cup winner Bernd Hoelzenbein said of Muller "He can't be compared to anyone. Anyone! Not even Pelé."