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How brilliant is Toni Kroos?

After ending his Germany career in 2021, Toni Kroos continues to pull the strings in a star-studded Real Madrid side.

Kroos's Germany highlights

When he announced his international retirement after winning 106 caps over 11 years for Germany, Toni Kroos said he wanted to concentrate on his role with Real Madrid.

It proved to be a fruitful decision for club and player, as the Merengues lifted a 35th Liga title, a 14th UEFA Champions League/European Cup and 12th Spanish Super Cup in a memorable 2021/22 campaign.

What they say

"He has a really good overview of the pitch. You could cover his eyes with your hands, and he would still tell you that on the right, 50 metres away, is Thomas Müller and on the left is Mesut Özil, 25 metres away."
Stefan Reinartz, former Leverkusen and Germany team-mate

"Toni is very intelligent. Many times, when things go badly, we tend to blame the players that seem calmer or more technical. But these players are the bravest, the ones with the most courage. Toni is the bravest of them all in the most difficult moments."
Pep Guardiola, former Bayern coach

"I've never seen [Kroos] lose the ball. His game is always elegant and efficient. He never has a bad day. He loves football and always wants to play. For me, playing is the main thing. Winning, yes, but playing is the main thing and it's like that for both of us."
Zinedine Zidane, former Madrid coach

All of Toni Kroos' Germany caps were won under Joachim Löw
All of Toni Kroos' Germany caps were won under Joachim LöwAFP via Getty Images

"Toni Kroos is a role model for the rest of the team with the way he approaches his job. He always puts in that extra bit of work before and after training – he's a consummate professional."
Joachim Löw, former Germany coach

"It's not hard with players [like Kroos] because they are smart and humble. They know they are important, even if they don't always play. Dealing with them is the easiest thing I've had in my career."
Carlo Ancelotti, Madrid coach

Current tally

International: 106 appearances, 17 goals
UEFA club competition: 141 appearances, 12 goals
Domestic competition: 488 appearances, 52 goals

Claims to fame

Bayern & Leverkusen
• Kroos joined Bayern aged 16 in 2006 from Hansa Rostock and by 2007/08 Ottmar Hitzfeld had promoted him to the first team.

• Kroos made his Bayern debut on 26 September 2007 against Energie Cottbus and at the time, aged 17 years and 265 days, was the club's youngest-ever player, a record later broken by David Alaba.

Toni Kroos celebrates with Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski during his Bayern debut
Toni Kroos celebrates with Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski during his Bayern debutBongarts/Getty Images

• The next month he scored a late winner against Crvena zvezda on his European debut in the UEFA Cup.

• Loaned to Bayer Leverkusen for 18 months from January 2009, he established himself as a regular.

• Returning to Bayern in 2010, the youngster helped them to reach the 2012 Champions League final and to go one better the following season. However, Kroos missed the end of the 2012/13 treble-winning season, including the Champions League final, through injury.

• He left Bayern for Madrid in summer 2014 after scooping another German double as well as the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

Real Madrid
• Kroos collected a trophy on his Madrid debut, the UEFA Super Cup, and also participated in the Merengues' Club World Cup triumph as he quickly settled.

• The midfielder was part of Madrid's Champions League triumphs of 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2021/22 – no German player has won the competition on more occasions. He also lifted the Club World Cup in those years.

• Liga titles were landed in 2016/17, 2019/20 and 2021/22 with Kroos now fast approaching 400 Madrid appearances.

• Picked a year early at Under-17 level, Kroos impressed at the 2006 and 2007 U17 EUROs and drove Germany to 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup bronze, being named tournament MVP.

Watch Toni Kroos score an U17 EURO stunner for Germany in 2007

• His debut arrived against Argentina on 3 March 2010 and he went to that year's World Cup, appearing four times including the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

• Come UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying, Kroos was a regular fixture. In the finals Germany made the last four, with Kroos unusually detailed to mark Andrea Pirlo in a 2-1 loss.

• Kroos hit peak condition at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, setting up the quarter-final winner against France and then starring in the 7-1 semi-final demolition of the hosts with two goals. He played all 120 minutes of the final win against Argentina.

A World Cup winner in 2014
A World Cup winner in 2014FIFA via Getty Images

• That proved his only major honour with Germany, though at the 2018 World Cup his superb free-kick winner in added time against Sweden was a highlight of a disappointing title defence.

• He earned his 100th cap on 13 October 2020 in a UEFA Nations League game against Switzerland but bowed out after the UEFA EURO 2020 round of 16 loss to England the following June.

What you might not know

• At school in Evershagen, he was made to play football barefoot in PE. His teacher Sieglinde Heimann told Die Welt: "Otherwise the others wouldn't have had a chance."

• Named in the UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season five years running between 2013/14 and 2017/18, and three times voted into the UEFA.com fans' Men's Team of the Year.

Toni Kroos lifted the UEFA Champions League for the fourth time in May 2022.
Toni Kroos lifted the UEFA Champions League for the fourth time in May 2022. AFP via Getty Images

• Also featured in the teams of the tournament at the 2014 World Cup and UEFA EURO 2016.

• Carlo Ancelotti nicknamed Kroos "Professor" at Real Madrid because of how well he had replaced the similarly-monikered Xabi Alonso.

What he says

"I hope to be in the reserves next year and then maybe in the next few years I will be in the Bayern first team." Kroos speaking to UEFA.com at the 2007 U17 EURO.

"I won plenty of trophies, I played with fantastic players and I worked with top coaches, so I have really good memories from Bayern."

"I know that at this club you are expected to win trophies but I'm the right man for that because I'm used to winning." Kroos on joining Madrid.

"I want to focus fully on my goals with Real Madrid for the next few years. In addition, from now on I will deliberately allow myself breaks that have not existed as a national player for 11 years." Kroos on his Germany retirement.

Carlo Ancelotti was Toni Kroos's first Madrid coach in 2014 and the pair were reunited in 2021
Carlo Ancelotti was Toni Kroos's first Madrid coach in 2014 and the pair were reunited in 2021AFP via Getty Images

What he might achieve yet

• Only five players have won more than the four Champions League titles scooped by Kroos. He would move level with Cristiano Ronaldo on five if Madrid claimed the trophy again in 2023, though team-mates Karim Benzema, Dani Carvajal and Luka Modrić may push the record further should that happen.

• He is currently 32 and his plans beyond 2023, when his Madrid contract ends, are unclear. He said in an interview: "Do not expect to see me playing until I am 38."


UEFA Super Cup 2013
FIFA Club World Cup 2013
Bundesliga 2008, 2013, 2014
German Cup 2013, 2014

UEFA Champions League 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022
UEFA Super Cup 2014, 2017, 2022
FIFA Club World Cup 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
Liga 2017, 2020, 2022

FIFA World Cup 2014