“Of course it’s special,” says Toni Kroos as he prepares to meet his former employers in the semi-finals.
On Bayern’s books from 2006 until he left for Real Madrid in 2014, Toni Kroos is once more having his loyalties tested as he faces his old side for a place in the UEFA Champions League final. The 28-year-old midfielder talks through the semi-final situation.
On taking on Bayern:
Of course it’s special when you play against a team you represented for six or seven years. I’ll see a lot of players I used to play with, or who I still play with in the national team.
On winning the UEFA Champions League at Bayern in 2013
We were so close to winning the Champions League final in 2012, which I think hurt the entire club. The team wanted to make up for it the following year, so winning a treble was extraordinary. Heynckes played a major role in that by drawing the right conclusions from 2012, when we came second in every competition. It was a pity I got injured at the beginning of April and couldn’t play in the final few matches.
On moving to Real Madrid in 2014:
On winning the UEFA Champions League with Madrid in 2016 and 2017:
The Champions League is a tough competition and, of course, winning it twice in row is a great achievement. The 2016 final was my second one. I played in 2012 when Bayern lost, and I didn’t play in 2013 due to injury, so it was special to win and have the feeling I’d contributed to our success. [Retaining the trophy in 2017] was special because no team had ever managed to win it twice in a row, and it will be difficult for any team to repeat that. I don’t think anyone expected that before the start of the season.
On what makes this Real Madrid side so special:
This competition is the hardest to win. Maybe that unleashes special powers in us. Emotions always play a part, especially on Champions League nights at the Bernabéu. You can see that in our performances.
A lot of the players have played in plenty of big games and we can stay calm in difficult situations because we know we can beat everybody. Even when we are not winning, we can change a game. We’ve experienced lots of situations, so we don’t get anxious.
On Zinédine Zidane
Everyone knows what a player he was and the character he is. The team’s morale with him is great and that is really important. He experienced everything as a world-class midfielder, which is why we accept what he says and try to implement it. He doesn’t need to use a loudspeaker – we all listen to him.