The Gift of the Midfield Legend, TONI KROOS, to the Game of Football

How time flies, how the hands of the clock stride forward without looking back for a moment, gradually the footballing legends of our time are beginning to take a bow, with the most recent being the German midfield maestro, Toni Kroos. Sometimes, it takes moments like this for the world of football to reminisce on how certain personalities have impacted the game. Taking a teary trip down memory lane, what does the journey of this maestro look like?

The Emergence

It all started in Greifswald, on the Eastern coast of Germany, where Kroos was born to Mr. Roland Kroos and Mrs. Birgit Kammer on Thursday, January 4, 1990. There was nothing “unusual” or “unorthodox” about his birth as he was just born like every other regular kid but little did the world know that a spectacle had just been born. With his father being a football enthusiast, a youth coach to be precise, it was only cultural for him to be introduced into the footballing world at a very early age. With the influence of his father and so much talent on his part, he featured at the Greifswalder SC academy where he flourished effortlessly for 5 years (1997-2002). Following this, he moved to the youth ranks of Hansa Rostock of which his father was the coach at the time where he dazzled for another 4 years. By 2006, his footballing genius could no longer be estranged as he joined up with the youth ranks of the best team in Germany and certainly one of Europe’s power houses, FC Bayern Munich.

The Teenage Sensation

The quality of Toni Kroos as a teenager was never in doubt but he was just known only to the locals. He didn’t catch the global attention and in order to do that, he needed to do something special and boy did he do so. The 2006 UEFA European U-17 Championship was where it all started though it was a bitter-sweet experience for the then young midfielder. Germany were having a very wonderful outing in the tournament until the semi-finals where they were knocked out by the eventual Champions, Russia via astrike from the young Russian forward Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Prudnikov in the 72nd minute, leaving them with a third place to fight for. The third place match against Spain didn’t go well either as they lost 3-2 on penalties, where Kroos missed a penalty kick. Despite the nature of the outing, his quality was there for the whole of Europe to witness as he was crowned as the best player of the tournament. He was just getting started as a year later, at age 17, his career began to take shape. 

On August 18, 2007, there came the FIFA U-17 World Cup and based on his performances in the just concluded Euros at the time, he was seen as the engine room of the German side. Once again, his performance was a very stellar one. He had a whole new aura about him and that was when the calm midfield maestro was born. Despite facing pressure from opponents, he took his time and was regarded as the “pace dictator” by pundits. Germany flourished in the tournament until they hit familiar territories as they were knocked out by eventual champions, Nigeria, in the semi-finals by 3-1. Unlike the last time, they edged Ghana by 2-1 to claim the third place position. Without any surprise, Toni Kroos won the best player of the tournament and the bronze shoe for finishing as the third highest goal scorer of the tournament. 

The sensation didn’t stop there because on 26th September, 2007, he made his debut for the Bayern Munich senior team, thereby becoming the youngest ever player to make a senior appearance in the club’s history at the age of 17.

Toni Kroos in Bayern Munich colors. Source: The Independent.

The Sudden Eclipse of the Star

Football sometimes can be cruel in ways that we can’t imagine. It’s something that beats the imagination of every football enthusiast as to how despite displaying excellence on the international stage, he was still treated the way he was treated at Bayern Munich. Despite making his mark during the UEFA Cup match against Red Bull Belgrade, where he came off the bench, assisted the equalizer and scored the winning goal in stoppage time for Bayern, it wasn’t still enough to convince the club that he was good enough. On January 31, 2009, he was sent out on loan to Bayer Leverkusen. During the half-season, Kroos showed his quality once he was called upon. He helped his team secure a place in the DFB Pokal final against Werder Bremen of which a late goal by Mesut Ozil denied him the trophy. Due to his high level of intelligence and mastery of the game, he secured his place in the starting XI for Bayer Leverkusen in the following season, having started all but one of their Bundesliga matches. His stellar performance won him the player of the month, back to back and earned him a call up for the FIFA World Cup in 2010. When asked why he was called up, the then German national team coach, Joachim Low said: “He does everything right, he never puts a foot wrong, he sees the game from a different dimension.” His performance at the World Cup, saw him end the tournament as the top assist provider and a place in the 2010 FIFA World XI. Though Germany finished third, he still shone bright. 

Back at his parent club, Bayern Munich, after his loan spell in the summer of 2010, he wasn’t still trusted. He was utilized more and more often from the bench. In the 2011/2012 season however, things changed as he became a regular starter for Bayern Munich as the coach for Bayer Leverkusen as at the time of his loan spell, was now the new boss. A midfield powerhouse of he, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez was created. This team dominated the midfield in a record 91% of their games that season, with Kroos playing a major role. Sadly, they lost on penalties to Chelsea in the 2012 Champions league final, denying them of a treble. 

In the 2012/2013 season, Kroos started off well and when he was beginning to return to the limelight, injury struck. This injury saw him miss out on all the tournament successes Bayern had that year in the Champions league and in the DFB Pokal. By the time the 2013/2014 season had come, the German midfielder had fallen so much out of favor with the Bayern board of directors. They wanted him out at all cost by the 2014 summer transfer window. They termed him as “not good enough” despite the then Bayern boss, Josep Guardiola, wanting him to stay. He was offered to many clubs but was rejected. One of the standout clubs was FC Barcelona as the man in charge then, Luis Enrique said he was not up to the standard needed at Barcelona. He had also had an agreement to sign with Manchester United but as the manager was changed from David Moyes, to Luis Van Gaal, the deal fell through as the latter didn’t fancy his signing by any stretch of the imagination.  Kroos felt very dejected and was ready to find a mid table club in the Bundesliga so that he could just play football. This all happened until the footballing gods arose on his behalf.

The Resurgence of the Star

Despite his club level dilemma, Kroos had to pull himself together and represent his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It will be noteworthy that the tournament turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to Kroos in his entire footballing career. At the tournament, Kroos flourished and was a very integral part of Germany securing the World Cup. Following his performance at the biggest footballing stage, he got a call from the Madrid boss, Carlo Ancelotti (Don Carlo) and on July 17, 2014, Toni Kroos was signed for €25 million from FC Bayern and was officially a galactico. His presentation proved how much he has mysteriously fallen off from the ascendancy at club level due to the ill treatment he got from FC Bayern as only 8000 supporters were in attendance. On that day of his presentation, he made it known that his connection with Bayern had been severed for good by this comment: “Real Madrid is the biggest club in the world, they are a cut above Bayern”.

Kroos in Real Madrid colors. Source:

During his early days as a Madridsta, he partnered with the then Colombian young sensation, James Rodriguez and Luka Modicum in the midfield. Moving forward, following the signing of Casemiro, a midfield trio of himself, Modric and Casemiro was born and this provided a very good rivalry to the then midfield trio of Iniesta, Rakitic and Busquets of Barcelona. Kroos flourished and dazzled for several years, match after match, game after game for Real Madrid. He felt free and was finally unlocked and alongside the nickname German Sniper, he earned the name Ice Man due to his calm, cool and collected nature on the ball regardless of the amount of pressure the team faced. He also got the name Garcom from his Brazilian teammates which in Portuguese, translates to the waiter due to his unique ability to pick out passes in the most impossible situations. Kroos’ success at Real Madrid was one so unfathomable that you dare not mention a trophy that the club won without mentioning him. 

Titles Won

The major accolades this footballing legend won were as follows:

Bayern Munich:

Bundesliga: 2007–08, 2012–13, 2013–14

DFB-Pokal: 2007–08, 2012–13, 2013–14

DFL-Supercup: 2012

UEFA Champions League: 2012–13

UEFA Super Cup: 2013

FIFA Club World Cup: 2013

Real Madrid:

La Liga: 2016–17, 2019–20, 2021–22, 2023–24.

Copa del Rey: 2022–23. 

Supercopa de España: 2017, 2019–20, 2021–22, 2023–24

UEFA Champions League: 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2021–22. 

UEFA Super Cup: 2014, 2017, 2022. 

FIFA Club World Cup: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022. 


FIFA World Cup: 2014, Third-place: 2010

Individual Accolades

UEFA European Under-17 Championship Golden Player: 2006

UEFA European Under-17 Championship Top Scorer: 2007

FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Ball: 2007

FIFA U-17 World Cup Bronze Shoe: 2007

Fritz-Walter-Medal U18 Gold Medal: 2008

Bundesliga Team of the Season: 2009–10, 2011–12

UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18

FIFA FIFPro World11: 2014, 2016, 2017.

UEFA Team of the Year: 2014, 2016, 2017

IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker: 2014

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2014

FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2014

Silbernes Lorbeerblatt: 2014

German Player of the Year: 2014

UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 2016

La Liga Top assist provider: 2016–17

UEFA La Liga Team of the Season: 2016–17, 2019–20

IFFHS World Team of the Decade 2011–2020

IFFHS UEFA Team of the Decade 2011–2020

German Footballer of the Year: 2018

GQ German Athlete of the Year: 2019.

The German midfielder is definitely well decorated and will have his last dance as a galactico in the 2024 UEFA Champions League final against Dortmund on Saturday, June 1st, as he is very hungry and passionate as he seeks to land the Los Blancos their 15th title. He’s also drawing the curtains of his footballing career after the Euro 2024.

As the legend moves on, we cannot but wish him the best in all his life endeavors. It’s certain that the game of football will never forget his name.

Nmesomachi Okoronkwo.

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1 thought on “The Gift of the Midfield Legend, TONI KROOS, to the Game of Football”

  1. Well written article .
    But a little error .
    2011/2012 season..
    Bayern ended trophyless, lost DFB Pokal finals I guess, lost UCL finals, Dortmund won Bundlesliga

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