On July 13 2014 in Rio, time stood still for Mario Gotze. A World Cup winner aged 21, scorer of the extra-time clincher in the final at the Maracana - the cathedral of football; it is rare that careers ever reach such heights again. The problem for the Bayern Munich attacker, is he has gone about proving that sentiment right ever since his smart volley downed Argentina in the Brazil capital.
Such was the vastness of the queue of people waiting to herald Gotze after his crowning moment, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for the crowd who watched the final at Berlin Brandenburg Gate, such was its density. Germany national team boss Joachim Low struck the most hyperbolic note, labelling the player as the "miracle boy" and the "boy wonder". He got it half-right.
If the events of the next two years are any indicator, it shows how the mid-summer's evening in Brazil came before Gotze's time, before he had truly discovered himself as a footballer or learned to cope with scrutiny. Franz Beckenbauer was among the figures to lay into the attacking midfielder, who initially failed to build on his crowning moment in his subsequent season at Bayern.
The 2015-16 season was accompanied by further problems. Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller's role in attack, was helped by the rapidly improving Kingsley Conan, Douglas Costa and Joshua Kimmich. Sadly, Gotze was a peripheral figure either side of a hamstring injury which kept him out for over four months. After he did indeed recovered, just four starts in the twilight of Pep Guardiola's reign followed.
Though Italian Carlo Ancelotti brings a fresh perspective to Bayern, there have been confusing messages over his future – with Premier League side Liverpool heavily linked with a £20m move for the German. Gotze has pledged to attend the first day of training under Ancelotti after the European Championships, but club chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has advised him to leave.
All this means Gotze arrives at Euro 2016, though certain to be among Low's 23-man squad for the finals, with his international and club futures very much polar opposites. For Germany he is the World Cup superhero who has failed to realised his full potentials, for Bayern a misfit midfielder ready to be shafted during the summer.
The tournament in France may act as respite for Gotze, who can still play a key role for his country as they aim to add the European title to their global crown. With Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Howedes and Mats Hummels at the back, Germany's problems will not be at the back but rather in attack. Discounting the goals scored against Gibraltar – playing in their first qualification campaign after earning Uefa membership - they netted 13 times in eight matches; hardly prolific.
Low's squad is not awash with goalscorers either. Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski are regarded as dubious selections despite their experience, while Andre Schurrle is unlikely to lead the attack. Thomas Muller's international strike-rate is dwarfed by his club form. This opens the door for Gotze, who has 17 goals in half a century of international appearances many of which came from a deep role.
Gotze is unlikely to start the tournament in Germany's first team, after a difficult season for his club, but just like in Brazil he may provide ammunition from the bench. It is not the role many envisaged two years ago, but with Liverpool watching and wondering, Gotze has the chance to ensure his career is not defined by one swing of a left boot. Time stands still for no one.