Miroslav Klose saluted “exemplary” Niclas Fullkrug after the Germany striker’s goalscoring World Cup debut against Spain.
The Werder Bremen forward was named in Hansi Flick’s squad for the finals after netting 10 times in 14 Bundesliga appearances this season, a tally only bettered by Christophe Nkunku in the German top flight (12).
Fullkrug scored the winner against Oman on his debut earlier this month, before snatching the equaliser following a lively cameo appearance as a substitute in Die Nationalmannschaft’s 1-1 draw with Spain on Sunday.
The 29-year-old, who became the first substitute to score for Germany at the World Cup since Mario Gotze’s winner against Argentina in the 2014 final, has caught the eye of former striker Klose.
1 – Niclas Füllkrug scored Germany’s first World Cup goal by a substitute since the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina (Mario Götze). Joker.
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz)
The World Cup’s all-time leading scorer does not know if Fullkrug will start the four-time champions’ crucial Group E clash with Costa Rica on Thursday, which they must win to stand any chance of qualifying for the last 16.
But Klose believes he would boost their attacking threat, telling Bild: “He has a certain presence in the penalty box and a good nose for situations.
“He brings a good package for a striker – good finishing inside the box, he’s two-footed and strong with headers.
“Costa Rica will certainly sit deep, but I don’t know Hansi’s game plan. For me, it’s important that when Niclas gets his minutes, he should use the opportunity.
“As soon as he’s on the pitch, the opponent’s focus will shift away from Jamal [Musiala], Thomas [Muller] or Leroy [Sane], because there will be someone in the penalty box to watch out for. That will automatically free up space for the others.
“I heard his interviews after the Spain game and immediately noticed that he doesn’t get carried away. He knows that more still has to come.
“When I see how he conducts himself and from what I heard from the team, I can only say: that’s exemplary. football needs such guys.”
Fullkrug revealed he used to look up to Klose, who also enjoyed a clinical spell with Bremen during his playing career, scoring 63 goals in 132 appearances between 2004 and 2007.
“That’s really nice to hear, because it means I did something right as a footballer,” the 44-year-old added. “Niclas’ statement is a big compliment for me. I’m even happier that a striker from my ex-club has the chance to show what he can do.”