CAPE TOWN: Miroslav Klose joined the elite 100 club on Saturday, cementing his place in German football history while edging closer to Ronaldo`s World Cup goal-scoring record with his brace in the 4-0 win over Argentina.
The Bayern Munich striker`s 100th cap, in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, put him in the company of top players like Franz Beckenbauer, Juergen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthaeus as one of only nine Germans to reach the milestone.
Regarded as an old-fashioned centre-forward, the 32-year-old now sits joint seventh on the list alongside defender Han-Juergen Doerner and Ulf Kirsten, one cap below Thomas Haessler.
Polish-born Klose has said he wants to remain in the national team until the 2012 European Championship in Poland and the Ukraine, which should see him better almost everyone else, with Klinsmann currently second on 108 caps.
But he is not likely to match the achievement of former captain Matthaeus, who played 150 times for his country.
The only other still active player near him is Michael Ballack on 98. Ballack was in Green Point Stadium on Saturday to see his team-mate reach the milestone but was ruled out of the tournament with injury before it started.
"I`m absolutely thrilled for Klose to have scored in his 100th game, and scored twice," said German coach Joachim Loew after Saturday`s quarter-final.
"He truely is impressive, such a wonderful player. He scores more than once every two matches and those statistics don`t need any more comment.
"He is outstanding and is always able to put on a top quality performance.
"He is always very self-critical, but I am really pleased he used his 100th cap to score."
Klose`s predatory instincts saw him add another two goals to his already impressive collection against Argentina, tapping in from close range from Lukas Podolski`s pass for the first and then slamming in a late volley.
His name is already inextricably linked with the World Cup finals.
A hard-working team player, Klose made his international debut in 2001 but only burst to prominence at the 2002 finals in Japan and South Korea, scoring five goals as Germany were defeated in the final by Brazil.
Four years later at Germany 2006 he reinforced his deadly goal-poaching reputation with another five-goal haul, earning himself the Golden Boot award.
Having scored against England and Australia in South Africa and now against Argentina, he has 14 World Cup goals, surpassing Brazilian legend Pele`s 12 and the 13 scored by Frenchman Just Fontaine.
He now stands level with German great Gerd Mueller, the star of West Germany`s 1974 World Cup winners, and just a single strike behind Ronaldo.
"Fourteen World Cup goals, what can I say, " added Loew.
"Few players can hold a candle to him. This will stay in the history books."
He also sits third on the all-time German goal-scoring hit-list with 52, behind Mueller`s 68 goals for West Germany and Joachim Streich`s 55 goals for East Germany.
Klose, a man known to shun the limelight, arrived in South Africa on the back of a poor Bundesliga season with Bayern Munich, where he warmed the bench and scored just three German league goals.
BDST: 2327hrs, July 3, 2010