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Maradona, Germany going bananas over soccer hot-shot 'Skinny One'

SANTO ANDRE, Brazil -- Goal-scoring machine Gerd Mueller was unkindly nicknamed “short, fat Mueller” during his career, now Germany's latest hot-shot star has been dubbed “El Flaco” — the Skinny One — by Argentina legend Maradona.

Thomas Mueller claimed the first hat-trick of these World Cup finals in Monday's 4-0 drubbing of Portugal in Germany's Group G opener in Salvador.

The Bayern Munich star, 24, is normally deployed as a winger or attacking midfielder and has only made rare appearances as striker for either club or country.

But the gangly Mueller repaid the faith of head coach Joachim Loew with an impressive display as a striker against Portugal, which led to Maradona — who almost single-handedly inspired Argentina to the 1986 World Cup trophy —dubbing him “El Flaco.”

“He has no muscles, but today he tore them (Portugal) apart,” an impressed Maradona, who knows a thing or two about goal-scoring, told Venezuelan television.

The goal-scoring exploits of stocky 1970s star Gerd Mueller are legendary amongst Germany fans, but his younger namesake currently has his soccer-mad country swooning.

The 68-year-old Gerd — also nicknamed “Das Bomber” — retired after scoring West Germany's winning goal in the 1974 World Cup final against the Netherlands.

He finished his career with an incredible 68 goals in 62 internationals and the younger Mueller is producing similar impressive statistics with 20 goals in 50 internationals.

“The lad's fast, he's got a good technique -- he's going to be a great player,” Gerd Muller said.

With eight World Cup goals now to his credit, the younger Mueller out-shone Portugal's World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the Portuguese captain is renowned for his personal grooming and showing off his finely honed torso in his goal celebrations, Mueller has a touch of the boy-next-door.

“It's his unorthodox playing style that characterizes Thomas Mueller,” ex-Germany captain Oliver Kahn told braodcasters ZDF.

“Sometimes he doesn't know himself exactly what he's going to do.

“There's a lot of intuition involved, he always knows where he has to run.

“His body language is very important, he makes a strong impression and says 'we want to be world champions' — I like that.”

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Germany's Thomas Mueller runs off the pitch during the second half after scoring his side's fourth goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Monday, June 16. (AP)

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