Toni Kroos: “I’m only good when I play for the team. I’m not that good on my own” | icon

It’s April 27th and Valdebebas, Real Madrid’s sports city, is a huge venue for promotional shoots and meetings where the stars of the men’s and women’s teams move from one place to another. Also circulating here is the new jersey that Adidas designed for the club next season: white with gold details. There is a tense lull: the League train is missing, Madrid are playing for the Champions League final against Manchester City. Only days remain before winning the Copa del Rey final and before a tough defeat in England knocking Real Madrid out of their sixth final in nine years. But no one here knows yet. Especially midfield leader Toni Kroos (Greiswald, Germany, 33), who poses for the cameras. It’s terribly hot there, but the German doesn’t sweat.

Good shirt. My favorite color is white, so I’m in the perfect club. And I love the gold that comes back like in the 19/20 season. This is very cool.

Most importantly, perhaps, are the headlines that hang from it. The most important and most difficult! It does not depend on the designer.

Who do you interact with the most before taking the field? Is it true? With very few We usually talk about tactics in Valdebebas if we play at home, or in hotels if we play abroad. In the locker room, we are already with motivational phrases or we are talking about the opponent’s line-up, which sometimes changes at the last moment and they say about it: “Hey, play this one”; “Hey, this one might work for you.”

You are in the most delicate area of ​​the field, the axis. When they talk about Madrid’s comebacks, they mention the attack, the last minutes, dizziness. But less than the team, with a score of 2:0, she did not break down, did not get upset, she resisted without splitting. tactical service. And always believe in your quality, regardless of the result. There is also something psychological: having done this many times, confidence grows and the team believes in it. You know that if you last, the game will give you a chance to come back. And that your colleagues have the same mentality because they don’t give up: they know it can be done. We never leave the game.

Does it weigh in reverse? The opponents know that we always come back, even if we are at the bottom, that until the referee whistles, we will be there. In the 14th season of the Champions League, this was very noticeable: a chance from us or a goal when we lose, games against strong opponents also change. They begin to think that they can lose, that this can happen because it has happened before. And at the Bernabeu, the stadium wakes up, gets up and, in the end, this is another one of our players. All this affects both our game and the game of the opponent.

counted guardiola Last season, they knew they were going to lose when, after a 1-1 draw, their goalkeeper took a long shot and the ball reached Courtois. This is something that the opponent’s game can change. This is a lot of pressure. And they start thinking, doing things that are not natural. For example, in the case of City and this game.

Kroos, photographed exclusively for ICON, wearing the new Adidas jersey for Real Madrid.Iago Castromil

For a tactical player like you, what does Ancelotti mean that he gives players more freedom on the field? This is wrong. Carlo always has a tactic and an idea for every player. And more importantly, he knows us very well and knows that we will always try for the team. What’s better? That we don’t want to shine each in our own way. My idea of ​​football, the foundation of my game, is that I’m only good when I play for the team. This is my quality. If I do something myself, I’m not that good. I play to help. The better others play, the better I will be. Carlo knows he doesn’t have to tell me what to do in every situation.

How would you describe Madrid’s game? The most important thing, and what we have done well in recent years, is that we adapt. I prefer to have the ball and dominate the game, but there are days when our quality is based on having less ball and creating space. With our attackers, we can quickly deal more damage to the opponent. If you only have an idea, things can go well, but in some games, they can make things difficult for you; If the opponent has the same idea as you and is better that day, we know how to adapt to keep doing damage in a different way. We play well with the ball, but we suffered a lot in some games without it, we know how to do it. And most importantly, you learn to be so comfortable, even if it’s not easy for players like me who want the ball: you have to accept that there are times when you don’t have it and that you have to defend and use counterattacks. or an opponent’s mistake.

Flexibility to be able to change. And also help the partner who is closest. We see from behind what those above do not see. It is important to talk to each other, to explain to the other what you see, but he does not. Football today is very fast, opponents are squeezing you, there is no time to think. That’s why it’s so important that we all pull ourselves together.

Does he look like a coach? No no.

If you weren’t a football player, what would you be? Look, I’ve always been a footballer.

Always? I decided very early. At the age of 16 I went to Munich to sign my first contract with the first team (Bayern).

This is no longer a game. Did you grow up in the countryside and still have a good time as a child? Okay (smiles). The pressure is greater, there are worse and better phases. You play for so many fans around the world, so there is a responsibility that you didn’t have as a kid. But there are moments when you forget, when you rejoice, as in childhood.

Cross wears Emporio Armani pants and jacket over an Adidas-designed sweatshirt.Iago Castromil

Keep learning? Yes, sure. Every year is a little less, because in the last 15 years I have experienced many situations. But if. I am always open to further learning. Because my idea is always to improve. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much you earn. Your opponents will also get to know you better in every match. And in order to continue to complicate his life, it is important to improve.

It will celebrate its tenth anniversary in the center of the Madrid field. Modric, 12 years old. We are here to make others feel safe and we ourselves feel safe and comfortable on the pitch. Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that in order to play well, you first need to feel comfortable. This is what we are trying to do, what we are trying to give to the team. We are not the ones who only defend, and not the ones who score three goals per game, but our zone is necessary for both.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given in football? At 19 I had (Jupp) Heynckes at Leverkusen as a coach. He saw my talent. He came from a time when he didn’t play much and he gave me his confidence. But he said something to me: “Football is also played without a ball. I see your ability to handle the ball, but only with it you will not reach the top. You can always play for a good club and play well. But to be on top of the world, you need to work a little more.”

But what about this game without a ball? Pressure, couples. Over the years I have greatly improved these aspects. If you don’t defend it makes it very difficult for the team and it’s almost impossible to take the ball away from very good opponents.

What would Kroos say to a teenager Kroos today? Keep working, believe in what you want to achieve. And get again.

Did you expect this decade in Madrid? Three Champions in a row? Five in eight years? I expected a lot, but not this. And that he came from a big club like Bayern Munich. I came here with the idea of ​​playing here for many years, to take my place, to show my qualities, to have a good relationship with the club, and I thought, hopefully I can win titles and hopefully hopefully the Champions League. That’s what I thought ten years ago.

Implementation: Cristina Malcorra. Photography assistant: Borja Llobregat and Steve Payne. Stylist assistant: Andrea Regueiro.

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