A serial winner in seven years with Bayern München, Toni Kroos will face his former club in the quarter-finals; the Real Madrid midfielder explains why he will always hold the Bavarian club dear.
Three years ago this month Toni Kroos made his last UEFA Champions League appearance for Bayern München. It was at home to Real Madrid, the club he now represents, in the second leg of the teams’ semi-final.
On Wednesday the midfielder will return to the scene of that 4-0 victory for the Spanish outfit when the sides meet in a heavyweight last-eight contest.
Background: Kroos joined Bayern from Hansa Rostock in summer 2006, going on to make his senior debut in September 2007. In seven years at the Fußball Arena München – during which time he spent 18 months on loan at Bayer Leverkusen – Kroos scored 13 goals in 130 Bundesliga outings.
A key member of the Bayern squad that won a European-domestic treble in 2012/13, Kroos signed for Madrid after playing a starring role for Germany at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Major honours won with Bayern
Bundesliga: 2007/08, 2012/13, 2013/14
German Cup: 2007/08, 2012/13, 2013/14
UEFA Champions League: 2012/13
UEFA Super Cup: 2013
FIFA Club World Cup: 2013
On how his time at Bayern helped shape him as a player and a person …
I had to leave home for the first time – it was my first time alone. And it’s not just about making it as a professional, but also off the pitch. I had to organise myself as well and that’s a tough task for a 16-year-old.
But I think I did really well in both respects, sporting and personal. I broke through to the first team relatively quickly in Munich.
On his memories of playing for Bayern …
That was where I played my first games as a professional. And then, after my 18-month loan to Leverkusen, I played a lot [more].
I won plenty of titles, I played with fantastic players and I worked with top coaches, so I have really good memories from my time at Bayern.
On his relationship with Bayern …
I try to stay up to date with how the team is getting on, although that can be difficult sometimes, as we have a lot of games here and I dedicate a lot of time to my private life, too.
There are still a lot of players there who I played with a lot and others that I still play with for the national team, so I’m still in touch with them. Some of them I know off the pitch, players I’ve known for a long time. After all, Bayern was a special period in my career.
On working under Zinédine Zidane …
I feel very, very comfortable with him. Since he took charge, he’s had a massive impact here.
When he arrived, things weren’t ideal for us. He made a great start, he brought a very positive atmosphere and he set a completely new direction. We’re now playing much better football than before and that was rewarded with the Champions League title last year. This season we’re in a good position in two competitions and of course that’s down to him, too
We have a good relationship. We think alike in terms of our style of play and he makes me feel that I’m important to him.