Toni Kroos to retire early after Germany’s defeat to Spain

Toni Kroos after the Euro 2024 quarter-final between Germany and Spain in Stuttgart on July 5, 2024. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Ilkay Gündogan knew it. Every match of the Mannschaft could be the last for his teammate Toni Kroos. But it was not necessary to think about it, said the German captain, on the eve of the quarter-final of Euro 2024 against Spain. Friday, July 5, in Stuttgart, when the Englishman Anthony Taylor whistled the end of the game in the Mercedes-Benz Arena, what was only a possibility materialized. The giant screens showed 1-2 in favor of the Roja, at the end of an intense fight of one hundred and twenty minutes. At that moment, the adventure of the locals in the tournament ended. And with it, the career of its emblematic midfielder.

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Did the public have this fact in mind at kick-off? Hadn’t his name been pronounced with a little more insistence than those of his teammates when the starting eleven of the Mannschaft was revealed? And what about the “Toni, Toni” came down from the stands when the player in question was taking a corner, preparing a free kick, or when he found himself crippled with cramp at the very end of the match? On Friday, Toni Kroos did not play his best match, far from it. But the physical commitment he showed, particularly in defense, demonstrated his determination not to give up until the end.

Unlike the 2006 World Cup, where, before the round of 16 between France and La Roja, the Iberian media had vainly promised to hasten Zinédine Zidane’s international retirement, this time, centre forward Joselu and midfielder Pedri have kept their bet. The epilogue is different, but in many ways, the trajectory of the 34-year-old German is reminiscent of that of his elder. Like the French number 10, he will remain one of the great names of Real Madrid. Like him, he was the playmaker of a selection from which he had, for a time, withdrawn, before returning to the bedside of a group in difficulty.

Return under the impetus of Nagelsmann

For the man born in Greifswald (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) in January 1990, in what was still, for a few months, the German Democratic Republic, this came to fruition in February. Since the summer of 2021 and the elimination of his team in the round of 16 of the European Nations Championship by England, Toni Kroos had chosen not to wear the national jersey. But as soon as he was appointed to the German bench, in the fall of 2023, Julian Nagelsmann had made his return a priority.

The matter took some time. “He wanted to know the direction we wanted to give the team. (…) In one of our first exchanges, he told me that he would only come back if he felt that we could win.”the coach will explain later. “What interests me is to see if I can help Germany have a better tournament at home than what we might imagine based on recent performances.”the player will say for his part.

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