Kroos hoping for ‘cheesy’ career end with Euro win

Published June 12, 2024
HERZOGENAURACH: Germany’s Toni Kroos (C) attends a training session with team-mates on Tuesday.—AFP
HERZOGENAURACH: Germany’s Toni Kroos (C) attends a training session with team-mates on Tuesday.—AFP

HERZOGENAURACH: Germany veteran Toni Kroos is hoping to sign off from his club and national career with a dream victory on home soil in Euro 2024 — and admitted on Tuesday the prospect was almost “a bit too cheesy”.

The 34-year-old Kroos, who won the 2014 World Cup with Germany and most recently lifted the Champions League for a sixth time after Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in June, is set to retire after the European Championship.

Kroos stepped down from international duty after Germany’s last-16 Euros exit to England in 2021 but answered a call from manager Julian Nagelsmann to return in February this year.

Speaking on Tuesday at Germany’s Euros training base in the Bavarian village of Herzogenaurach, a “hungry” Kroos said he would not have come back if he did not believe in a sentimental ending.

“That ending would be a bit too cheesy, with the Champions League and the European Championship, but I’ll take it. It went hand in hand with the decision to come back. I still want to be successful and I want to win the tournament this summer. That’s quite clear. If I didn’t feel this idea — or this fantasy — was possible, then I wouldn’t have come back, because it’s always about winning any competition I play in.”

Kroos made his Germany debut in 2010 and so was too young to play at the 2006 World Cup -- the last time Germany hosted a major tournament.

He said the German team had “a big responsibility” to succeed on home soil and said there was pressure for the hosts to do well after a decade without any major international title.

But he urged his team mates to enjoy what is a rare occasion for most professional footballers, a major tournament in their own country.

“Basically at every tournament on home soil (there is pressure). It is even more special,” Kroos said. “You get feedback instantly, the positive and the negative. We have a big responsibility for the atmosphere in the country for the next few weeks. We know what this is about but it is also a great honour and joy to play this tournament. How many players do get to play a home tournament?”

Germany played out a goalless draw against Ukraine before needing an 89th minute goal to snatch a 2-1 comeback win over Greece in their final two warm-up matches last week.

“There is no better opportunity to show in a tournament that we can play well,” said Kroos. “That is the task. If we want to play a good role then it is inevitable that we must minimise these phases when we don’t play well as a team. These phases where we have problems, because there are teams coming [at the tournament] that will punish us and then the tournament is over.”

The Germans kick off the tournament on Friday with their opening Group ‘A’ match against Scotland in Munich before also playing Hungary and Switzerland.

“With Scotland, we know what kind of opponent waits for us,” he said. “They’re tough to play against, physically strong and compact in defence and are quick on the counter. They’re the type of opponent we’ve had problems with recently.”

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2024

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