The relationship between Stefan Kiessling and the Germany national team has been a trifle odd, to say the least. Although the 26-year-old Bayer Leverkusen striker has been one of the Bundesliga’s top marksmen for many seasons, he has struggled for a breakthrough with the three-time world champions. But thanks to a superb 2009/10 league campaign, when he was just pipped at the post for the title of top scorer, the Franconia-born hitman secured a spot in coach Joachim Low’s squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Kiessling is far from the stereotypical penalty-box poacher, preferring to drop deep and wide in search of the ball, before deploying his long stride to pick up pace. Always a highly mobile target man, his goal-scoring prowess has steadily sharpened since his arrival in Leverkusen. The 1.94m man with the tousled blond hair has honed his nose for goal and predator’s instincts to great effect, while continuing to capitalise on his undisputed aerial strength.
After coming up through the ranks at Nuremberg, he took the next step up the career ladder with his 2006 summer switch to Leverkusen as the successor to Dimitar Berbatov. Kiessling has proved a more than adequate replacement for the silky Bulgarian, and represents a serious challenge to the established order in the Germany attack and the likes of Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez.
After a total of 15 appearances for the Germany U-21s, he earned a first full cap in March 2007 in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Denmark in Duisburg, but then faded from the scene for almost two years. Kiessling also has yet to open his senior scoring account for his country, an omission he would be only too happy to rectify in South Africa.