Miroslav Klose has admitted Germany fans did not know where their new heroes were going to come from a couple of years ago. Joachim Low's team have have lit up the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ with a series of brilliant displays.
They have scored four goals in three of their five matches, and sent England and Argentina hurtling out of the tournament. Suddenly the likes of Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer are becoming household names across Europe, after barely being so on German soil a couple of years ago.
"A few years ago people kept saying that it was a shame there weren't any new generations coming through," Klose said. "They said we have no forwards and no creative midfielders. Everybody deplored that. But time has proved these people wrong."
I spoke with Ronaldo after the [Korea/Japan 2002] Final. At the time I would not have dreamed of ever coming this close to him.
How much progress Germany have made will be measured in Durban on Wednesday, when Spain provide the barrier to Low's side reaching the final. Muller is suspended, which will mean an introduction for either Piotr Trochowski or 20-year-old Toni Kroos on the right flank.
One of the more experienced members of the three-time champions' side, Klose will keep his place, knowing he only needs one goal to equal the record FIFA World Cup haul of 15, currently held by Brazilian Ronaldo. Two of the latter's efforts came in the Korea/Japan 2002 Final defeat of Germany in Yokohama, an occasion Klose was part of for 74 minutes before he was replaced by Oliver Bierhoff.
"I spoke with Ronaldo after the Final," he recalled. "At the time I would not have dreamed of ever coming this close to him, needing two more goals to surpass him. I hope he's not too worried."