Ottmar Hitzfeld hailed 17-year-old striker Toni Kroos as "a future international" after his added-time goal gave FC Bayern München a 3-2 win at FK Crvena Zvezda.
Ottmar Hitzfeld hailed 17-year-old forward Toni Kroos as "a future international" after his late goal earned FC Bayern München a 3-2 win at FK Crvena Zvezda.
The teenager came on for defensive midfielder Mark van Bommel nine minutes from time with the German side 2-1 down and struggling to deal with the pitch in Belgrade, and helped Bayern avoid their first defeat of the season. His free-kick from the left allowed Miroslav Klose to head an 86th-minute equaliser and he then scored the added-time winner direct from another set-piece.
"Toni is a future international," said Hitzfeld. "He is a passionate footballer with great instinct. He always takes the right decision on the pitch and you don't have to tell him what to do." Klose added: "The way Toni scored the goal was world class." It was Kroos's first goal since joining up with the senior team, having arrived from the FC Hansa Rostock academy in 2006.
Werder Bremen, FC Schalke 04 and Chelsea FC all showed an interest in the player back in 2006, and Bayern are understandably keen to protect their prodigy. Hitzfeld said: "We don't want to field him too often – we prefer him to appear from time to time." Sporting director Uli Hoeness took a different stance: "Stop telling me Toni was world class. For me Lucio was the man of the match."
Kroos helped Germany win bronze at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup and was named the player of the tournament, as well as finishing as the third highest scorer. After last night's game, he said: "It was very important that we started with a win in the group stage. We battled a lot and held firm and in the end we deserved to win."