Mario Gómez’s illustrious career at Bayern was nearly over before it even began.
In 2010, months after a third-place finish with Germany at the World Cup, then-manager Louis van Gaal wanted to offload the striker just one year after the club had brought him in from Stuttgart for an eye-watering €31m.
However, Gómez, now back with Stuttgart, was able to change the gaffer’s mind and help his side achieve an unprecedented treble in the 2012-13 season before he departed for Fiorentina that summer.
“Louis van Gaal wanted to sell me after my first year at Bayern, demoting me to the number four striker and saying it would be best for everyone if I moved on,” Gomez told Bild.
“But when I subsequently went to [Bayern CEO] Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and [Bayern President] Uli Hoeness with an offer from Liverpool, Hoeness held his stomach and said ‘my gut feeling says you have to stay!’
“A few months later van Gaal told me that he had come to realise that I was his number one striker. That was perhaps the biggest personal victory of my career.
“I’m aware that I was allowed to swim with the biggest fish, even though I’m not the best striker in the world.
“Yet in 2012 I suddenly had 12 Champions League goals to my name, and was only two behind Lionel Messi.”
From 2009 to 2013, Gómez bagged an incredible 113 goals and 26 assists in 174 matches for Bayern in all competitions, winning two Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokals, and one Champions League title in the process.
He also won the Bundesliga with Stuttgart back in 2007.
Gómez and Stuttgart face Bayern this Sunday at the Allianz Arena.