For years Toni Kroos said very little. He was never the most vocal on international duty for Germany and in Madrid he was famously one of those – along with Gareth Bale – who skipped media responsibilities because of the language barrier.
But all that has changed. This week he spoke out about choreographed goal celebrations and the planned European Super League, even though the former rant upset some of his fellow pros and the second will not have pleased his club.
Kroos doesn’t seem to care. The World Cup winner turned 30 this year and it turns out he does have plenty to say, and he’s not afraid to say it.
Toni Kroos (above) criticised Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for his extreme goal celebrations
Arsenal striker Aubameyang (above) has been using masks for goal celebrations in his career
Kroos spoke out about masked-goal celebrations and pre-planned dances like the one Antoine Griezmann performed – with a handful of glitter handed to him by a steward, thrown in for good measure – in a recent podcast with his brother Felix.
‘I find it very silly. Even worse is if there are any objects hidden in their socks. Aubameyang once celebrated and took out a mask. That’s where it ends with me,’ he said.
Aubameyang responded on social media: ‘Does this Toni Kroos have kids. I did it for my kids a few times and I would do it again. I wish you have kids one day.’
Deadpan Kroos responded: ‘THIS Toni Kroos has three kids’.
Aubameyang slammed Kroos for describing the celebrations as ‘silly’ and justified his actions
Those who saw the Manfred Oldenburg-directed film: ‘Kroos’ that was released in 2019 already knew that.
It showed Kroos with his wife Jessica and their children, ‘like an old married couple’ in her words.
In the film Toni is seen chatting with his younger brother Felix who plays for Eintracht Braunschweig, the sibling he launched the podcast with.
Much to Toni’s amusement, Felix says: ‘One of the bits of advice my Grandad gave us was: “don’t run too much in the first half, save some energy for the second”. I have always followed that one.’
The Aubameyang row is a rare occasion where Kroos has spoke out publicly in anger
Later in the film Kroos’ long time midfield partner Luka Modric says: ‘He sees everything in slow motion.’ And echoing Modric’ sentiment former Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes says: ‘The very best players are mentally strong. The brain is more decisive than the feet.’
‘Toni Kroos is the personification of what other see as the best of Germany: German craftsmanship, German seriousness, German sunburn,’ says another contributor.
In the fall out to Kroos’ online spat with Aubameyang it was interesting that Mesut Ozil came down on the side of the Arsenal forward and not his Germany team-mate.
Mesut Ozil, who has played with both Aubameyang and Kroos, took the Arsenal striker’s side
It is not the first time that Ozil and Kroos, who were World Cup winners together in 2014, have been involved in a public spat.
When the Arsenal midfielder retired from international duty in 2018, Ozil claimed the German FA was showing signs of ‘racism and disrespect’ in dealing with the Turkish-born footballer.
‘I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,’ said Ozil in a retirement statement, accusing the German governing body of not protecting him from criticism of his background after the national side were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup group stages.
Ozil (right) and Kroos are former Germany team-mates, but have had a mixed relationship
Kroos, meanwhile, rubbished the claims made by his international team-mate, describing them as ‘nonsense’.
Ozil and Kroos’ career paths have been similar but it has been Toni who has enjoyed the better results.
Ozil spent three frustrating years at Real Madrid only ever reaching three Champions League semi-finals under Jose Mourinho. Kroos has won the biggest club competition in football four times, including three times with Real Madrid.
All this after having made the bold decision to tell Bayern Munich who he had joined as a 16-year-old: if you don’t want me then I’m off! Not many do that.
Like Kroos, Ozil is a former Real Madrid player but did not have the same success
‘I was often told how great I was and how brilliantly I was doing but I never got to play,’ he has said.
‘This was a tough decision, maybe the wrong one,’ says Uli Hoeness who sanctioned the €25m sale in 2014.
At the time many commentators in Germany believed that Bayern had doubts over Kroos’ temperament and character. Time has proved them wrong.
Even in the summer of 2019 when it seemed he would be sold after a disappointing season he signed a new contract and then totally justified it scoring six goals from midfield (his best tally for Madrid ever) as the team won the league.
Kroos left Bayern Munich in 2014 as the German club had doubts about his attitude
During the last lockdown in Spain, Kroos started the podcast with his brother Felix and no subjects, it seems, are off limits.
‘We’re just the puppets of FIFA and UEFA,’ he said in the last one. ‘If there was a players’ union, we wouldn’t play a Nations League or a Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.’
And speaking out against the idea of a European Super League he added: ‘These competitions are about sucking everything out financially. I’m a big fan of leaving things alone when they are working. The leagues are already top along with the Champions League, the World Cup and the European Championship.’
Kroos has also spoken out against the idea of the European Super League and player treatment
That might have upset a few people at Real Madrid, but coach Zinedine Zidane who contributes to the ‘Kroos’ film will not be one of them. His trust in the German is not for negotiating.
Before the Borussia Monchengladbach game Kroos even joined his manager for pre-game media duties and spoke in fluent Spanish – another unexpected turn like a no-look pass from his on-field repertoire.
Kroos’ goal celebrations might be dull, but his opinions are not and he has started to air them.
For years the only team-mate to, along with Bale, miss out on club dinners and shy away from giving interview in Spanish has found his voice. And it seems he has plenty to say.