Mario Götze gave the perfect response to criticism he received from a former German playmaker prior to his country’s 4-1 demolition of Italy.
Ex-Germany and Bayern Munich schemer Mehmet Scholl accused Götze of being a shadow of his former self, and suggested he wasn’t training, or pushing himself, hard enough.
Speaking as a pundit on the ARD TV channel for the Germany v Italy clash, Scholl said:
It takes a lot to train a lot more. This feat can only lead to becoming world class. So you have to give this player [Götze] a helping hand.
I remember his early days in Dortmund. He was so fast, so athletic, he was an arrow.
It would be desirable that he found a coach who puts [responsibility] on him, but also works him hard.
Scholl then reiterated that Götze “needs to train a lot, lot more.”
Götze responded on the pitch by producing a vintage man-of-the-match performance against the Italians in a 4-1 win – scoring one goal and creating another with an outrageous flick.
Asked afterwards about Scholl’s criticism the playmaker remarked:
I did not know that he observes my training. I also didn’t know that he’s always there every time I train.
Indeed, it seems Scholl might not have been aware that Götze had actually taken on extra training as he stepped up his recovery from injury, even taking his personal trainer to Dubai during the German league winter break.
Scholl may not have noticed but the German national team staff certainly did, with coach Joachim Löw paying particular praise after the friendly victory:
Mario earned this [performance] himself. I can understand why he may be playing less at Bayern at the moment because they have a great squad and he was injured for a long time.
But Mario has worked hard in the past weeks, he did individual training sessions to get back to his best and I hope the game today gave him the self-confidence he needs for the coming weeks.
Götze echoed that sentiment, which some saw as a comparison to how things haven’t been going at club level, but remained coy on his future in the wake of much speculation linking him with a summer transfer to Liverpool, amongst others.
It was important for me to play again. I am very happy to have been on the pitch and it is just great to feel that my coach is trusting me. This means a lot for me at the moment.
For me it is important to play because that is when I am happy. Everything else will come by itself – there’s no need to talk about the future now.