30. Juli 1964, Göppingen
1981–1984 Stuttgarter Kickers
1984–1989 VfB Stuttgart
1989–1992 Inter Mailand
1992–1994 AS Monaco
1994–1995 Tottenham Hotspur
1995–1997 FC Bayern München
1997–1998 Sampdoria Genua
221 appearances, 110 goals (Bundesliga)
103 appearances, 36 goals (Serie A, Italien)
65 appearances, 29 goals (Ligue 1, Frankreich)
41 appearances, 20 goals (Premier League, England)
Deutscher Meister: 1997
UEFA Pokal Sieger: 1991, 1996
108 caps (47 goals)
Jürgen Klinsmann already had a formidable career behind him when, literally on his way down, he conclusively earned the respect of the public, winning the hearts of Tottenham Hotspur fans in the process. Nothing he did at his fifth senior club was particularly different compared with his previous spells at Stuttgarter Kickers, VfB Stuttgart, Inter Milan and AS Monaco. The striker found the net with regular reliability. This time, however, his goal celebration combined a special move that saw him sprint away before launching himself in the manner of a ski-jumper, landing on his stomach on the invariably wet English turf and sliding across the pitch, visibly delighted. The 'Diver', as it is known in Germany, was born and quickly became his trademark.Initially, his acrobatic lunge was addressed to his critics, who were more used to British resilience and occasionally knocked what they considered Klinsmann's predilection for going down rather easily whenever an opponent went in a little harder. It was the accused's way of showing them he could do it with no physical contact needed. Self-deprecation is appreciated in England.
The dive celebration had another effect. For Klinsmann turned it into a collective one. Whenever he wheeled away with his arms outstretched, it was an invitation to his teammates to do the same. Soon, almost the entire Spurs team would be sliding towards the jubilant fans in the stands after a goal. It became an image of togetherness, of community. Values the native Swabian had not exactly been associated with in his career to that point. Klinsmann had a reputation for being self-centred and only concerned with his own needs and wants. Now he was the one carrying the team along and infusing them with enthusiasm and dynamism. As England's Footballer of the Year, he also became the world's leading goalscorer in 1995.
It was at this time he was made captain of the national team by coach Berti Vogts, meaning that he was the first to lift the European Championship trophy at Wembley in 1996. The EURO in England was his tournament despite his recent departure from London to join Bayern Munich, taking with him the No18 shirt that had made him so popular at Tottenham. Extraordinarily good timing, as fixed shirt numbers had only just become standard in the Bundesliga. The Klinsmann hype that had built up in England thus spread to Germany, where he had yet to enjoy unqualified approval despite making an outstanding contribution to the nation's sense of football well-being.
In 1988, he was a member of the Olympic team that won bronze at the Seoul Games, the first ever medal for a West German squad. And at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, which ultimately ended in victory, the 108-times capped international had the game of his life in a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in the Round of 16. Being handed a free role probably played a part in that. After the early dismissal of strike partner Rudi Völler, Klinsmann was alone up front. He went his own way, and once convinced of a way, he defied all the odds. In this case, the physical odds. The images of him leaving the pitch completely exhausted on being substituted after setting Germany on the road to victory with the opening goal remain etched in the memory. Independence and personal freedom were part of his credo off the pitch, too.Team boss Franz Beckenbauer knew how to deal with that and granted him special dispensation to leave the camp occasionally during the tournament in Klinsmann's adopted country.
Headstrong, straightforward, consistent - Jürgen Klinsmann's style of play and character did not always earn him friends, but it did bring him success and personal awards. In 2016, the world and European champion was named honorary captain of the national team by the German Football Association. An outstanding recognition that must have been worth a perfectly executed dive celebration to a player who was often controversial yet was elevated to the rank of one of the greatest ever German football legends.