The German football world has started the 2011-12 season with a fever. And its name sounds very Brazilian-like – “Götzinho”.
Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Mario Götze may be just 19 years old, but he has already earned the Brazilian-sounding nickname in a country that rarely compares its own to South Americans.
“It is impossible to stop Mario Götze. You cannot play better than him. There are footballers who just have everything,” said German football legend Franz Beckenbauer after Dortmund’s fantastic 3-1 Bundeslia opening day victory over Hamburg – in which Götze set up two goals and scored a third.
“He is a purely instinctive football – just like (Argentina great Lionel) Messi. He has the same talents, same understanding of the game and technique.”
Beckenbauer added: “Real Madrid’s Mesut Özil and Götze already play at one level. There is a great generation coming for us.”
Beckenbauer wasn’t the only one to praise Götze, who set up a goal and scored one in Germany’s mid-week 3-2 victory over Brazil – Germany’s first win over the record five-time world champions in nearly 18 years.
“He is an absolutely exceptional talent,” said German team manager Oliver Bierhoff while former German international playmaker Mehmet Scholl added: “I haven’t seen someone like him in ages. He does everything right intuitively.”
And former Dortmund and Bayern Munich head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld chipped in with: “Mario Götze has a great future. Götze is a gift from the heavens.”
Götzinho legend begins
After twice winning the Fritz Walter medal for Germany’s top youth player at his age group and leading Germany to the U17 European Championship in 2009, all the rage over Götze has been building since last season when he played a huge role in Dortmund running away with Bundesliga title.
And Götze’s nickname “Götzinho” initially emerged in April 2011 as Dortmund defender Mats Hummels admitted at a post-match press conference following another sensational Götze showing late in Dortmund’s title-winning campaign.
“Mario’s individual performance was world class. Even now we are calling him Götzinho sometimes,” said Hummels.
Following Götze’s sensational showing against Hamburg, the “Götzinho” nickname took over the headlines, especially with Germany’s up-coming showdown against Brazil – which saw Götze make his debut in the German starting line-up.
And Götze, who turned 19 in June, did not disappoint those awaiting a Brazilian-like performance.
“As for technique, Mario is half-Brazilian,” raved German midfield ace Bastian Schweinsteiger.
“Mario has a magnificent technique and sees everything on the pitch. He plays clean passes and makes the easiest things look fantastic,” said German national team coach Joachim Löw, who subbed out Götze with two minutes remaining to award him a standing ovation from the capacity Stuttgart crowd.
“Mario finds the right solution for every situation. It’s the simple things he does that makes him so strong.”
Götze against Götzinho
After the Germany victory, Götze shrugged off talk of his Brazilian-sounding moniker.
“The nickname Götzinho actually doesn’t exist and I don’t know where it comes from,” said Götze, who has been with Dortmund since age 9 and made his Bundesliga debut at 17 years 5 months.
“Both in the club and here with the national team I am called by my first name.”
His Dortmund teammate, veteran Sebastian Kehl said Germans should not pressure Götze so early on in his career – despite his superb skill.
“His abilities remind many of Brazilian players and his playing style as well, but we should just give the kid time and let him mature in time and he will continue to develop very well and we will all enjoy him a lot,” said Kehl.
Within just five days, Götze took what was already a major hype around himself and turned it into a massive craze – something usually saved for Brazilians in the like of a “Götzinho”.