Thomas Muller is not exactly renowned for silky technique, mazy dribbles round opposing defenders or outrageous tricks and flicks. The Germany No13’s glowing reputation is instead based on determination, effort and tireless running, attributes that rapidly won him a special place in the hearts of Bayern Munich fans. What’s more, and remarkably for a player so closely associated with Germany’s biggest club, the affection for the grinning goalscorer is felt by the country’s entire footballing family.
It would be fair to describe Muller as devoid of frills, and the intensity of his play means he is not regarded as particularly witty or charismatic outside Germany. In fact he is both these things: at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Mats Hummels even described him as "our comedy act". Muller is a classic straight-talker in interviews, continually coming up with droll quips and always shooting from the hip. "Unfortunately, the only thing I can do is play football, which is why the interviews come out like they do," he once said.
The media archives are bursting with mischievous, barbed and amusing Muller sayings. To mark his birthday today, FIFA.com has collected some of his choicest quips.
"For a change I struck that one the way I intended – hey, it can be done!"
After opening the scoring against USA at the Brazil 2014.
"I’m slowly but surely getting the feeling I can do more with my left foot than just get up and fetch a beer."
At the same World Cup.
"It was like being stuck in a hotdog van. It makes you realise what a fascinating piece of work the cactus is, the way it doesn’t wilt.”
After the World Cup quarter-final against France in the heat of the Maracana.
"Still aching from lifting the trophy?"
To UEFA Champions League winner and Germany team-mate Sami Khedira on his arrival for a pre-World Cup training camp.
"We’ve worked our butts off and won, and that’s fine. If we play like ballerinas we’re criticised for having no characters in the team."
Muller reacting to media criticism of the Round of 16 victory over Algeria.
"He wears it with fervour and dedication, so it works. If I was to wear that kind of thing they’d all ask me if Carnival has gone year-round now."
On team-mate Jerome Boateng’s taste in clothes.
"We footballers only think from day to day – from today until yesterday."
Asked how far ahead he is prepared to look.
"I can only speak for myself because I don’t know how the others are feeling, although they obviously don’t have this vast reservoir of experience under their belts compared to me, the 23-year-old."
On his nervousness a day prior to the Champions League final in 2013.
"Well, at least you went the right way mentally."
To team-mate Manuel Neuer after putting a penalty past him in training.
"You can’t get hurt if there are no muscles. My calves are so thin, opponents never hit the bone because they’re so hard to see."
On the fact he is rarely injured.
"We were extremely crap at the start, then it was OK for a bit, then we were crap again. Then we gave it another go, and then yet again, we were crap."
'Analysing a 3-1 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in 2011/12.
"We play Louis van Low football."
On Germany’s tactics at the South Africa 2010, due to the large number of Bayern players in the squad (Louis van Gaal was Munich coach at the time).
Asked whether he would prefer to face Mexico or Argentina in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals.