Mario Gomez was all but written off at Bayern Munich, the German international rumoured to be heading for the exit after just more than a year into his four-year contract,. But then, against Hanover 96 yesterday, the 25-year-old came up with a masterful showing with a hat-trick in Bayern's 3-0 victory.
Today Gomez, whose father is Spanish and mother is German, said his goals had been inspired by the recent Chilean miners rescue, and said that it was destiny.
"I must thank the people of Chile," said Gomez, who only played because first choice strikers Ivica Olic and Miroslav Klose were both injured. "When I saw that one of the first miners brought to the surface was called Mario Gomez, I knew that it was going to be my match."
"These goals are a sign of destiny. 33 miners were saved, I wear shirt number 33 and I scored three goals," commented Gomez, whose goals ended a two match losing run for Bayern and saw them move up to ninth place, ten points adrift of co-leaders Borussia Dortmund and Mainz.
With a rash of injuries to the likes Ivica Olic, Miroslav Klose and wingers Arjen Robben and Franck RIbery, Gomez is finally fully getting the chance he wanted since arriving in southern Germany in 2009 as the most expensive acquisition in Bayern's league history.
"If you play 90 minutes, you always have more opportunities and chances to prove yourself. I am happy that it worked out well today," said Gomez, who was subbed on in five of the first six Bayern matches, in the 71st minute or later, until starting his first contest two weeks ago at Borussia Dortmund.
Gomez's first goal against Hanover in the 21st minute - a header off a cross from the right side - was the first time he scored for Bayern since 13 February against Dortmund. The 13-game goalless stretch was the longest of his career.
"I always knew what I could do. When I am fit and healthy, I will score my goals and try to help the team. It worked very well today, but I also got three nice assists," said Gomez, who added his second and third goals of the season in the 77th and 90th minutes. It was Gomez's first hat-trick in Bayern dress after he scored ten goals last season.
"I am very happy that Mario Gomez scored three goals because it's very important for his confidence. And that is very important for Bayern," said Bayern coach Louis van Gaal, whose team now has 11 points in ninth place, trailing leaders Dortmund by 10 points.
The Munich coach really hasn't had much choice but start Gomez as the Bayern injury list is getting longer and longer. Missing on Saturday for van Gaal were captain Mark van Bommel, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Miroslav Klose, Ivica Olic and Daniel van Buyten. And Bastian Schweinsteiger started the game on the bench alongside Christoph Knasmullner and Nicolas Jullich of Bayern's U23 amateur second side. That makes a strong Gomez all the more important.
"I think we will see a very good Mario Gomez over the next couple weeks," said van Gaal. The hat-trick comes four days after Gomez scored for the German national team against Kazakhstan, his first goal for Germany since hitting in a friendly against South Africa in 2009.
The negative image surrounding Gomez began at Euro 2008 when he failed to score from right in front of the goal against Austria. Germany and Bayern fans began to assume that Gomez - who tallied 24 goals for VfB Stuttgart in 2008/09 - would not score.
Any negativity is well on its way to vanishing as Bayern know Gomez will be key to any chance to defend their title - an atmosphere almost unthinkable just a couple weeks ago.