Mario Gomez has called time on his Germany career after 11 years, 78 caps and 31 goals. The striker is the second of Germany’s World Cup 2018 squad to call it quits after Mesut Özil.
The Stuttgart forward announced his decision on social media on Sunday, saying that after finally fulfilling his dream of playing at a World Cup, he wanted to clear the path for younger players.
"My time in the national team was not always easy, not always successful but it was beautiful,” the 33-year-old wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. “But now is the time to make room and give the many young and talented players [coming through] the opportunity to fulfill their dream, to prove themselves, to gain experience and to achieve the best for Germany."
Gomez’ retirement comes soon after Mesut Özil quit the national team citing racist attitudes in Germany’s football association (DFB) and a lack of institutional support from the organization, following criticism of a photo he posed for with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
Gomez’s decision appears to have no such political motivation and he wrote of how playing for Germany in major tournaments was an “honor” and said he would “always stay connected to the DFB team and, like all Germans, I am now a big fan of this team.”
Despite quitting, Gomez added that should a national team coach call on him for the next European Championships in 2020 then he would be open to the offer, but admitted that was an unlikely scenario.
The former Bayern Munich striker now plys his trade for his first club Stuttgart, who he returned to in January after leaving in 2009. He’s been in Germany squads at three Euros and got his first chance at a World Cup in Russia after missing out through injury in 2014. Gomez also won the golden boot as the top scorer at Euro 2012.
While Gomez has largely been used as an impact substitute by Germany coach Joachim Löw in recent years, his decision to call it a day does leave Löw with some issues upfront.
The striking position has long been an issue for Germany, with RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner now the only recognized natural senior striker available. In the past, Löw has experimented with the likes of Thomas Müller and Mario Götze leading the line, with mixed results.
Germany’s next match is a friendly against Peru in September while Gomez is expected to appear in Stuttgart’s Bundesliga opener against Mainz on August 26.