Germany are heavyweights with 'Skinny One' around
FAMOUSLY mistaken as a ball-boy by Diego Maradona after his Germany debut in 2010, Thomas Mueller will need no introduction at Euro 2016.
Despite having earned 70 caps and scored 31 goals for Germany, Mueller is still only 26 and is a shoe-in for club or country, whether as a winger, attacking midfielder or striker.
He insists he is just an average guy and his name is so typically German that 700,000 countrymen are also called Thomas Mueller - except this one has well over nine million followers on Facebook.
Bayern fans dubbed him the "100-million-euro-man" after Manchester United reportedly tabled a massive bid for the Bavarian-born product who joined Bayern from regional team TSV Paehl as a 10-year-old.
Last December, Mueller signed a contract extension with Bayern until June 2021, reportedly earning him 15 million euros (S$23 million) per season.
Perhaps, the greatest testament to his talent is that, in a squad of superstars at Bayern, head coach Pep Guardiola, much like Germany boss Joachim Loew, is a fellow convert to Louis van Gaal's famous dictum that, when fit, "Mueller always plays".
When Germany finished third at the 2010 World Cup, he left South Africa with both the Golden Boot and the best young player award. He wrote himself into German football folklore with two goals in a 4-1 trouncing of England in the last 16.
Four years on, Maradona, who by then knew exactly who he was talking about, dubbed Mueller "El Flaco" - the Skinny One - after the German's hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Portugal in the opening group match of Brazil 2014, playing as a False Nine.
Should Bastian Schweinsteiger fail to recover in time from a medial knee ligament injury, Mueller could find himself going from Jack-the-lad to captaining his country in France.