Lukas Podolski is a forward for Germany’s national soccer team, also playing with FC Cologne in the Bundesliga. The 5-foot, 11-inch Podolski was named by FIFA as “Best Young Player” at the 2006 World Cup and was the second highest goalscorer for Germany during qualifying play for the 2010 World Cup.
Born in Poland but raised in Germany, Lukas Podolski started early, playing for the youth club of FC Bergheim at 6, and moving to FC Cologne (FC Köln) when he was 10. It was at FC Cologne that he first emerged into the limelight, scoring 10 goals in his first 19 senior appearances, the best tally by an 18 year old in the history of the Bundesliga. The following season, Podolski scored over 20 goals to lead Cologne to promotion to the Bundesliga, but the club was again sent down a level after the 2005-06 campaign.
Bayern Munich then signed Podolski for a reported $10 million transfer fee in the summer of 2006, and he made his debut in an August 2006 Bundesliga match against Borussia Dortmund. An ankle injury that year forced Podolski to the sidelines for a portion of his initial season in Munich, while additional player acquisitions at the forward position would limit Podolski’s time on the pitch for Bayern in following seasons.
Because of the lack of playing time, Podolski decided to returned to his former club FC Cologne in July 2009.
Having been born in Poland, Podolski was initially eligible to play for Poland, but then-Polish national coach Pawal Janas refused the call to consider him, claiming that Poland had “much better strikers” and there was no need for Podolski. Eventually, Podolski was won over by the German side, and since his inclusion in the starting line-up for the German Euro 2004 team, he has proven himself to be an indispensable player.
Paired with Miroslav Klose for the 2006 World Cup, Podolski netted 3 goals in his first World Cup appearance, his impressive tally tying with football greats such as Ronaldo and Thierry Henry. It also earned him the FIFA honor of “Best Young Player” (over such players as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi) at that World Cup.
During Germany’s successful qualifying campaign for UEFA’s 2008 European Championships, Podolski scored four goals in a 13-0 rout of San Marino, making him one of only four German players to notch four goals in an international match. At the 2008 Euros, Podolski scored three goals to help lead Germany all the way to the final game, a 1-0 loss to Spain.
Podolski continued to score goals for his international team in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, putting six into the nets in his nine appearances for Germany, which took top spot in Europe’s Group Four to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa.