Germany's Klose to celebrate birthday against Portugal

AFP, Tuesday 5 Jun 2012

Birthday-boy Klose wishes for a win over Portugal next Saturday

Miroslav Klose
Germany's national soccer player Miroslav Klose listens to reporter's question during a news conference ahead of the Euro 2012 in Gdansk (Photo: Reuters)

Veteran striker Miroslav Klose wants to celebrate his 34th birthday on Saturday by getting Germany's Euro 2012 campaign off to a winning start in Group B with victory against Portugal.

Having made his Germany debut in 2001, making 116 appearances and scoring 63 goals in the process, the Lazio forward is just five short of Gerd Mueller's all-time record of 68 goals for the national team.

Germany play Portugal in Lviv, Ukraine, and Poland-born Klose's most wished for present is three points as he prepares for his third European Championships, to be hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

"Basically I only want three points, I would love to have a victory and I would love for us to put into practice what we know we can do," said Klose when asked about his birthday wish.

"I have a good feeling, mostly because we came here well prepared and we have excellent players."

With their attack led by Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal are seen by many as a one-man team, but Klose said there is far more to Paulo Bento's squad despite some poor form coming into the finals.

"Obviously, their dangerous players are not just Cristiano Ronaldo, they can only beat us as a full team, one man is not enough," he said.

"They have top players in their squad like (Real Madrid centreback) Pepe, who can pose a threat."

Germany beat Portugal at both the 2006 World Cup - in the lightly-regarded third place match - and the Euro 2008 quarter-finals, but Klose said those results count for little.

Despite his impressive goal haul for Germany, Klose is not guaranteed to start on Saturday as he vies with Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez for the lone striker berth, while Borussia Moenchengladbach's Marco Reus is also an option.

Having first come to Germany from Poland as an eight-year-old, Klose said he is delighted to be back in his home country and despite more than a decade in the national team, insists there is no secret to his longevity.

"There is no fountain of youth, I just work hard on my fitness," he said having now recovered from a recent thigh injury.

"I take care of myself and I think I have another two or three years left in me.

"I am nearly 34, sometimes your back hurts and you have to do your own exercising and put in some serious stretching.

"I really notice it when I neglect my stretching, it shows and my body tells me what it has been missing.

"Everything is going according to plan, when I was injured in Italy, I had my own fitness plan and my target was to be where I am now with a week to go."

Two years ago in South Africa, Klose hinted he had played his final World Cup, but with the next one in Brazil now just two years away, he said his long-term goal is for one last fling.

"Yes, the long term goal is to play the next World Cup," he said with 14 World Cup goals to his credit, second only to Brazil's Ronaldo as the tournament's all-time goal-scorer.

"I think I will just take it on a year-by-year basis, if my legs carry me, I will carry on, we have to see how things go and I want to take it step by step."

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