Ladies and gentlemen,
and above all, Miroslav Klose!
I am delighted to be honouring you as Football Ambassador today. An ambassador in a building full of diplomats – people who work to forge good relations with their counterparts, as it says in the dictionary, people who try to engage with people without annoying them.
Well, with all due respect, Miroslav Klose: I suspect you may well have annoyed people during your encounters on the football pitch in the last few years, at least your football-playing opponents!
After all, your performance will have made an impression on several of your opponents all over the world!
Ladies and gentlemen, Miroslav Klose has broken every goal record that a striker can break:
– top scorer in the Bundesliga!
– record scorer for the national team!
– top scorer in the 2006 World Cup!
– World Cup goal record with 16 goals!
– and of course – World Champion!
And yet I ask myself: was it possible to achieve all this by diplomatic means, with regard to our good relations in this world? I imagine there are a few countries which were critical of Germany when Miroslav Klose went off the field.
Just take a moment to think about it: spectacular goals, like the 8:0 win against Saudi Arabia, a country with which we are constantly working to forge better relations – and three of those goals were headers from you! Or the crucial equaliser against Argentina in the World Cup quarter final here in Germany. Or the 7:1 victory against Brazil in the World Cup semi‑final three years ago! You have no idea how much work you made for us here at the Federal Foreign Office!
But the special thing about you, Miroslav Klose, is this: of course, you are an ambitious sportsman. You want to win – otherwise you wouldn't have achieved nearly as much in your football career. Yet you manage to ensure that your football opponents don't have to feel like losers. That's why Football Ambassador, diplomat, is, after all, an appropriate term.
For even though he has scored so many goals against other teams, Miroslav Klose is characterised by his respect for his opponents, his team spirit, his fairness, his decency – and this he undoubtedly also shares with Uwe Seeler. And that is exactly why we can't think of anyone who deserves this award more!
Miroslav Klose once said: “Anyone who knows me, knows that the team always comes first, then nothing, and after that, at some point, it's my turn.”
And that's true: At all stages of his career, whether in Kaiserslautern, Bremen, Munich or latterly with S.S. Lazio in Rome, Miro Klose has always made his team his first priority. Both on and off the field!
I think football fans have a very fine sense for when a player has no aspirations to be a star, and doesn't pretend to be something he isn't amid all the hype surrounding professional football. Miroslav Klose is such a player. He has never tried to draw attention to himself with loud statements or poses. That is what so many fans like about him. Not just here in Germany, but also in Italy, where, in Rome, he rapidly won the hearts of the tifosi through his playing, and that is no mean feat.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he once scored the deciding goal in the Rome Derby for S.S. Lazio in the third minute of extra time ... After that, an Italian sports newspaper christened him “the true king of Rome”.
And for many he even became the “emperor of Rome”, when during a match he wouldn't allow a goal he had scored for S.S. Lazio, despite the fact that the referee had already approved it, because he had touched the ball with his hand! His team went on to lose the game. Maybe he would have saved the game for his team if he had kept quiet. However, Klose's gesture earned him the respect of team colleagues and opponents throughout the football world.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is why Miroslav Klose is a great Football Ambassador. He stands for fairness, team spirit, commitment and, of course, for exceptional performance!
Miroslav Klose, we are all delighted that you will remain involved with German football as a trainer after the end of your football career.
You have made an outstanding contribution to football. You have shaped the image of Germany abroad in the most positive way. And at the same time you have set an example of how it is possible not to deny one's own culture and national origins and still be a role model for many other people in our country.
I hope you are pleased to receive this special prize.
Although I do understand if you don't express your delight in the same extraordinary way that we've seen when you've scored a goal ... with a somersault!
Congratulations and thank you very much!