The World Cup winner has likened the Dortmund centre-back to the Germany legend, while asserting that he and Mario Gomez have all the ability to be top performers at Euro 2012
Retired Germany defender Olaf Thon has heaped praise on Mats Hummels and Mario Gomez.
The Bayern Munich striker has scored three goals in his first two games at Euro 2012, while the Dortmund centre-back has made a personal breakthrough in Joachim Low's squad in successive wins against Portugal and Netherlands. And Thon is confident that the pair have the class to maintain their run of form and become the stars of the championship.
"I think Hummels can be the best defensive player at this tournament and Gomez the best in attack," Thon told Goal.com.
Until the tournament, the 23-year-old Hummels had trouble replicating his fine club form on the international stage: as recently as late May he was part of a Germany defence that conceded five goals against Switzerland in a pre-Euro 2012 friendly.
However, Thon is not at all shocked by the centre-back's rapid rise to prominence in Low's squad, and even likened him to Mannschaft legend Franz Beckenbauer.
"I'm not surprised that Hummels managed to improve so quickly. He has exceptional skill in his challenges and is very robust in his tackling. He is a bit like Beckenbauer," Thon said.
"This is a tournament in which he can learn. In two or three years, he can be the leader of the team."
With Hummels and the 23-year-old Holger Badstuber in the centre of defence, Germany have a core that has impressed Thon, who feels the pair have the quality to be the national team's first-choice pairing in the long-term.
"Although they are very young, they already have a lot of experience. Badstuber played in the Champions League final, he has good technique. And then there's the experience of [Philipp] Lahm; also [Jerome] Boateng is getting better, with Manuel Neuer in goal – that can be the future. And with that, Germany will be hard to beat in the coming years."
Low's men currently sit atop Group B with six points from two games. Their final group-stage match, against Denmark, will kick off on Sunday in Lviv at 20:45CET.