Home BETTING TIPS Kroos has been one of the greatest players of his era

Kroos has been one of the greatest players of his era



Toni Kroos is the forgotten member of the greats in this generation of midfielders.

The German, 34, played his final game for Real Madrid on Saturday, his final game of club football in fact. It just so happened to be the Champions League final, and Madrid’s win, their 15th in all, gave Kroos a sixth career crown.

This summer, he will don his national shirt in one more tournament, hoping to add to the European Championship trophy to the World Cup he won 10 years ago. As hosts, Germany are among the favourites, despite a tough decade since glory in Brazil. One super talented generation gradually departed, Kroos standing as one of the final members, and the new one hadn’t gelled to the same incredibly high level. But Germany are forever to be feared by rivals, their mentality one of the strongest around. Kroos is hoping for one last dance; it would be a fitting end to a trophy-laden career.

Being the driving force of a Real Madrid midfield for 10 years, after gaining similar importance after emerging through Bayern Munich’s system and for Germany too, hasn’t seen him listed as one of the elite 21st century midfield maestros, though. When you competing with Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Andrea Pirlo, and the man he has spent years playing alongside, Luka Modric, just to name a few, it is hard to stand out from the crowd in that regard.

He has a CV to rival anyone. The post-match scenes at Wembley, as he embraced beaten finalist and international teammate Marco Reus, bidding a similarly emotional farewell to Borussia Dortmund, while taking acclaim from thousands of Madridistas, show that. It is hard to leave a club like that on your own terms, much less to be waved off into the sunset, but that alone is evidence of Kroos’ impact and legacy.

He joined the club after they won their tenth European title, led there by Carlo Ancelotti; Madrid had waited 12 years for that moment. The Champions League is an obsession there at the best of times; a wait of over a decade for such a historic number raised the pressure even more. With Kroos at the club, they won another five, as well as four La Liga titles; Saturday’s victory means they won the domestic and European double for just the fourth time in their history. Even by the standards that have made Madrid the biggest and most successful club in history, this era, with Kroos at it’s heart, has been among the most glittering.

Perhaps this is why Kroos is so underrated. There is a perception that Madrid’s mentality and ability to sign the best players in the world makes their success inevitable. Kroos, in that sense, has always been merely a cog in a bigger machine. Cristiano Ronaldo and, more recently Jude Bellingham and Vinicius Junior have been the real stars. Compare that to Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, who despite the presence of Lionel Messi at Barcelona, carved out their own reputations, while Pirlo’s popularity developed beyond football in his later years and he became a fashion icon. Legacy is how you are remembered, and maybe Kroos hasn’t made enough cache.

But that isn’t his problem; without him, success for Germany, Madrid and Bayern would be hugely diminished. His role at the Santiago Bernabeu has diminished as the club, always ruthlessly searching for the next success, evolves. The days of Modric and Kroos together, alongside Casemiro, are long gone. These are the days of Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde. But Kroos’ presence, and Modric’s for that matter, have smoothed the transition over recent years.

The fanfare to mark Kroos’ impending retirement is not simply for show. If Madrid had it their way, there would be more to come.

“I’m really grateful to Kroos,” Ancelotti said in his post-match press conference. “He finished at the very top, there is no way to finish higher than this. He had the boldness to finish it [his career] and he is a legend at this club.

“All the fans are grateful to him for attitude, his professionalism. I’ve told him we are waiting for him to change his mind — we are waiting for you.”

“We have lost an important player, but we have players who can replace him and we will adapt and play a slightly different way.

“We have fantastic players and the resources to remain competitive.”

Everybody should hope Kroos changes his mind before another nail in the coffin of a superb footballing generation. This is goodbye, and nothing would be more fitting for the most understated of superstars to bow out at the top and cement his place as and undisputed legend of the game.