PETALING JAYA: A world-class striker and World Cup 2014 champion from Germany says he owes his early development as a footballer to Malaysia’s Lim Teong Kim.
Thomas Muller who plays for Bayern Munich, started out as a youth recruit with the Bundesliga champions, and remembers fondly all that he learnt under the former Malaysian national.
“I learnt very much from him. He has a great eye for tactics and to take the right positions on the pitch.
“He was one of the first coaches I learnt football from, so I enjoyed it very much,” Muller told Straits Times on the sidelines of the 2017 International Champions Cup which starts today in Singapore. Aside from Bayern, Inter Milan (Italy) and Chelsea (England) are also taking part.
Lim had been a youth coach in Bayern from 2001 to 2013 before he returned to Malaysia to help out with the National Football Development Programme, which was solely under the sports ministry and not the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
Muller added that other established German internationals who started their career at Bayern also gained so much from Lim, namely Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos.
Muller, 27, is in the top 10 of Germany’s all-time top scorers list with 37 goals (ranked 9) and is also a prolific scorer at the World Cup having notched 10 goals in just two Finals – South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014).
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Singapore daily three years ago, Lim also spoke highly of Muller’s “huge work ethic” in Bayern.
“He had a huge desire to succeed, which is as important as individual skills if you want to make it far in football.
“In training, we constantly drilled into him to always follow a shot into the penalty box and anticipate the rebound, which is one of the key aspects of his play now.
“The drills may seem minute and mundane, but Muller practised them fastidiously nonetheless,” Lim had been quoted as saying by Straits Times in the 2014 interview.