Toni Kroos: “I’m still not able to explain what happened last season”

This Thursday, Toni Kroos was the guest of the Movistar Plus+ Universo Valdano program. The German Real Madrid player spoke with Jorge Valdano, former Real Madrid player and president, about his football career, his time at Real Madrid, his personal life and much more. Here’s his interview in full:

What is Real Madrid for Toni Kroos?: “We have to talk about Florentino. He is the man who signed me, he received me with great affection from the first day until today. I don’t remember any day in almost these eight and a half years that I have had a problem with Florentino. We have always spoken very openly and sincerely. He knows that if there is something I am going to say it to his face and he is going to do the same. He has always defended me and given me confidence and that is what a player needs. But not only Florentino, all my coaches and teammates have given me a lot of confidence these eight years. I feel very privileged.”

Has your idea of ​​Madrid changed?: “The idea of ​​football has changed a bit. In 2013-2014, when I played against them with Bayern, it was a football all by counterattacks. It is still a force that we have, but in the end we have a lot of players who want the ball and not just want to run. The mentality has been changing with Carlo, with Zizou… Today we have more possession than seven or eight years ago, but we also have the aptitude to hold on when we don’t have it.”

La Decimocuarta: “I’m still not able to explain what happened last season. What happens at the Bernabéu also influences rivals. An action changes a lot, your confidence, the atmosphere in the stadium and the confidence of the rival. And that impacts the result. Honestly, I haven’t seen anything like that either. Also, it wasn’t once, it was three times. I saw it as very difficult to win the Champions League, if we had reached the quarter-finals or semi-finals we would have already done well. The signing of Mbappé hasn’t slowed us down, but he would’ve given us extra quality. We started the season with a good team, but I didn’t think we could win. And then in the draws we got the best teams in Europe and it was getting harder and harder. But in the end we deserved to be there because we beat the four best teams in Europe.”

Would you give up your World Cup or your five Champions Leagues?: “I would keep the five Champions Leagues. I like consistency. Winning five in eight years is something very special.”

Lifestyle: “For me it is important to have life at home, with my family, because then football goes away.”

His role: “I see myself as a team player, who brings quality to the team. With just my qualities, a team doesn’t win anything, but I can be a very important player who helps win things and win matches. There are many features of mine that can help the team. There are games that are won in the middle and, if you dominate there, you win. Many times you see matches go one way or the other depending on who dominates there. I always play to help win, not to win games. A player does not win games alone. Football is a team sport and that’s how I see myself.”

His return to Bayern after his loan spell at Leverkusen: “I spoke to Van Gaal and he told me: ‘I’m the best coach in the world and then you have to come to Munich’. For me, luck came when Jupp Heynckes came to Bayern.”

Heynckes: “He recognised the talent that I had. It is talent and work. He made me work and told me that he could help defensively as well. I have had many very good coaches, but if you ask me about the most important one it is Jupp Heynckes, he was the first one who gave me confidence”.

The Champions League final lost against Chelsea at the Allianz in 2012: “If you ask me about a game that still bothers me, it’s that one. It could’ve been my first Champions League, at home, with the atmosphere in Munich. We had it in our heads all season. Everything was to win and in the end we lost it.”

It feels like you were born to play for Guardiola. Was it difficult for you to leave that Bayern side that was so adaptable to your football?: “Pep fought until the last day for me to stay. If there is a perfect coach for my game, it is him. I really enjoyed that year with him and I improved a lot. But I had to decide to sign a contract for five more years. It was a decision for many years and in the end the club made it easier for me to make a decision. We did not reach an agreement, I thought I deserved a salary and they saw it differently. In the end I made the decision, they didn’t want to pay for that and so I’m leaving.”

Arrival at Real Madrid: “I am very happy with how the club received me. I had trained twice and the coach told me that I was going to play in the Super Cup final. That was a sign of confidence, of security.”

Guardiola: “Pep has influenced German football. He played his football with Bayern and that has influenced a lot of young coaches coming out now.”

Position in midfield: “I feel much more comfortable on the left side.”

Differences between playing with Tchouaméni and Casemiro: “It’s changed a bit, because Tchouaméni comes out of his position a little more than Casemiro. That sometimes forces me to occupy that position a little more. I like it, it doesn’t change my game too much. You think maybe a bit more defensive, but in general it doesn’t affect my game much. If I have to choose between touching the ball 40 times and scoring a goal or touching it 100 times and not score, I prefer to touch the ball 100 times. I like to help the team start the attack well. Also sometimes I like to get to the box and shoot, but we have more players who can get to the box and score goals better than me, but we have fewer players who go down to get the ball and there I can help the team a lot more.”

Did Casemiro’s departure worry you?: “Of course, in the first moments you are a little sad because you remember all the things we won together. But in the end it is the life of football. Some players leave, then others arrive. There is always an end.”

Retirement from the national team and the World Cup: “It will be different. At least when Germany’s first game starts, I’m sure I’ll want to play. I played twelve years with Germany, we won the World Cup… I always liked playing for my country, but after the European Championship I had the feeling that I had to decide something. I saw myself continuing playing, but there were a couple of reasons: I wanted more time with my family and I also believed that there were players who deserved to play more. And besides, I didn’t want to get to a point where they told me I’d better get out. I decided that I wanted to continue at the top and the first thing is the club. I thought it was time to leave the national team and recover here during the breaks and have more strength and desire to play here with Madrid.”

Playing with the same white boots. Is it a superstition?: “If you want to call it that… it’s my only one. It’s easy to explain. I feel more comfortable and since I’ve been wearing the same model for ten years I need white boots and it’s also prettier, playing at home with all white. I had a lot of success with these boots and that’s why I asked Adidas to keep making them for me.”

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