Thomas Muller made his first public comments since winning the World Cup with Germany last month, and he believes Bayern Munich can avoid a World Cup hangover.PORTLAND, Ore. — Tomas Muller has heard his share of praise already in his young career. Scoring 10 goals in 11 World Cup matches by the age of 24 will earn you plenty of respect. But even a player with World Cup and UEFA Champions League titles under his belt has to smile wide when told of the high praise Thierry Henry had for him.
On Monday, Henry stated that if he had a young son playing soccer, he would want his son to copy what Muller and Franck Ribery do. When told of the compliments, Muller drew a sizable grin and admitted to counting Henry as one of his footballing idols.
“It’s an honor for me when Thierry Henry says words like this,” Muller said on Wednesday. “He had his great time I was much younger so I looked up to him so these words are very special.”
Henry’s praise was extensive for the Bayern Munich attacker, who has quietly established himself as one of the world’s best despite not being as flashy as some other top talents.
"It’s funny how people don’t look at the game the way they should look at the game," Henry said regarding Muller. "People, especially now the media, they love a guy with step overs, tricks and things like that. But the game is what Thomas Muller is doing for me. That’s the game.
"If anyone had the record he has at the World Cup -- people talk about it, but they don’t talk about it the way they should," Henry said. “(Muller) defends. He attacks. He controls the ball when he has to control it. He reverses when he has to reverse. Finishes it when he has to finish. Thomas Muller for me he does what the game asks him to do.
"I just like people who respect the game and it’s not always easy to do what the game is asking you to do," Henry added. "It sounds simple, but it’s one of the most difficult things.
Muller’s World Cup teammate, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, was equally generous when asked to explain what makes Muller such a dangerous player.
“Sometimes he doesn’t know what he’s doing by himself but he’s very dangerous,” Neuer said on Wednesday. “He’s dangerous with the head, he’s dangerous with the foot, and always in the box. It’s dangerous for a defender to play against Tomas Muller because the defender doesn’t know what he is doing, and sometimes Tomas Muller as well. He’s a very aggressive and confident striker.”
Muller and the rest of the World Cup-winning Germans on Bayern’s roster arrived in Portland after cutting short their post-World Cup vacations to take part in the MLS All-Star Game. The players looked rested and happy, and will look to build on their success in Brazil.
Regarding concerns about a World Cup hangover, and the possibility that Bayern could struggle due to many of its stars winning the World Cup, Muller sounded confident in his team’s chances of continuing its run of success.
“We have many players with so much quality so we can compensate really easy I think,” Muller said. “We are all guys that love the sport. We are fit, we are young and we are hungry for more.
“It’s easy to motivate (ourselves) because we love to play our game.”
Muller will be remembered by American fans as the German who delivered the lone goal in Germany’s 1-0 victory against the USA in Brazil. When asked his impressions of the U.S. team, Muller had praise for the team now coached by his countryman Jurgen Klinsmann.
“We know the qualities and strengths of the U.S. team,” Muller said. “They play very strong, they are very fit, but also technique in the midfield. They want to play with the ball, that’s maybe a little bit of a surprise. Not just fighting, they played with the ball and I think they did a good job. The Belgium game was very tight, and I think they can be proud.”
With a long career still ahead of him, Muller isn’t likely to leave Bayern Munich any time soon, but wouldn’t rule it coming to MLS one day, even if his answer was probably just him being gracious.
“I think it’s very interesting and very exciting for the guys and I think that the league becomes, year after year, better,” Muller said.