In the early 1500s, Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 theses to a church door and lit the torch of reformation. As any good book on theological history will surely tell you, this began a process that culminated in the career of Mario Götze.
It was Luther who popularised the term “Götze” as meaning false God or false idol. It might be the perfect name for any footballer, worshipped by fans in the sport’s cathedrals, but rarely proving to be a true deity. Robbie Fowler being the notable exception.
But what of Götze himself?
A March 2017 Guardian article entitled, “Mario Götze: the ‘once in a century talent’ who is now fighting to save his career”, mentions the Luther connection before adding:
“It would be an undeserved ending to a young man’s career if the
name on Mario Götze’s shirt turned out to have spelled his destiny.”
So has his name impacted his career, as names theory suggests?
Maybe. There are, after all, certain parallels to the “false idol” name-driven narrative:
- Listen closely and you’ll hear whispered suggestions that he has yet to fulfill the expectations raised earlier in his professional career.
- He was idolised at Dortmund before rejection by many of the faithful once his move to Munich was announced. He has since returned, of course.
- He has played as a “false” nine.
- He wore a Nike shirt to his unveiling in the Temple of Adidas that is Bayern.
Coincidence or fate?
Opinions of Götze are, as ever in football, driven by perception and the power of received narrative. Those who do scoff at his career and have him stamped as a “nearly man” forget his first stint at Dortmund was a huge success. And that he is still just 25. We also now know he had a metabolic disorder that might have played a role in limiting his continuing development, something that prompted the Guardian article above. Fortunately, all now seems well, given his recent return to the Dortmund first team.
Then there is the small matter of the 113th minute of the game between Argentina and Germany, July 13, 2014, when he scored the winning goal in the World Cup final. As such, he can reasonably lay claim to having exceeded all and every expectation.
Not such a Götze after all?