The Impact of Toni Kroos

An icon for Real Madrid and Germany, Toni Kroos has announced his retirement following this summer’s EURO 2024. From his serial winning to subdued brilliance, we take a look at the impact he’s had on the game throughout his career. 

The 2024 European Championships will be where one of the game’s greatest-ever players bids farewell to the sport.

Toni Kroos announced in May that his illustrious career would come to an end after this year’s EUROs in his native Germany. The 34-year-old midfielder has engaged countless soccer fans throughout his 17-year career, and he has the chance to go out on top with a pair of trophies for his already packed cabinet.

The first is one he’s already won a few times before — a UEFA Champions League title. His Real Madrid will take on Borussia Dortmund this weekend, and a victory would give him a record-tying sixth UCL crown. The second, however, is one that has eluded him throughout his time atop the beautiful game. It will also be the last tournament he competes in, barring an unexpected comeback.

Kroos was never a goal or assist machine — his best league tally was in the 2009-10 Bundesliga season where he notched nine goals and 12 assists for Bayer Leverkusen — but that was never what made him great. “Kroos control” is a phrase so often used because it perfectly sums up his impact. Elegance, composure, and supreme footballing intelligence; Kroos embodied these and could command a football pitch like no other.

Kroos has damn near completed football, winning everything there is to win bar one. Four La Liga titles, five Champions Leagues, three Bundesliga crowns with a legendary treble to boot; and to top it off the greatest prize in our sport, the World Cup.

The only trophy missing from his phenomenal career is a European Championship, and we can guarantee there wouldn’t be a more poetic ending to a career of a legend than him signing off with the only major trophy that has eluded him.


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Kroos’ decision to retire came as a shock to many. Athletes have a tendency to milk a career for everything it’s worth, playing well past their primes and perhaps even overstaying their welcomes at times. There are rare occasions though, like in the case of Kroos, where a player decides it is time to hang it up while still clearly near the peak of their powers.

It’s a trend that we’ve seen much more commonly over the years in American football, where players have become more conscious of their long-term health. The first, and perhaps most poignant example that pops to mind is star linebacker Luke Kuechly. He retired from the game in 2020 at age 28, still clearly the best in the world at his position.

All-time great running back Barry Sanders hung up his cleats in 1998 at 31 years old and sent similar shockwaves throughout the league because of how spectacular he still was, and the records he could’ve potentially broken.

eric cantona retirement

However, we have also seen a fair few footballers call it a career when they clearly still had plenty to give. Eric Cantona was 30 at the time of his retirement, and was still world-class.

“I have played professional football for 13 years, which is a long time,” Cantona said of his retirement. “I now wish to do other things. I always planned to retire when I was at the top and, at Manchester United, I have reached the pinnacle of my career.”

Cantona bowed out as the Premier League’s second top goal scorer and helped lead Manchester United to another title. Not a bad way to say goodbye.

This is a theme that rang true for another all-time great as well. Zinedine Zidane, despite being 34 at the time, showed in his 2006 World Cup campaign that he could still run a game like no other. His infamous head-butt of Marco Materazzi may have left a sour taste in our mouths, but Zizou was unplayable throughout that tournament.

Regardless of the result of this week’s UCL final, and indeed how the European Championships turn out for Kroos’ Germany, his legacy is impregnable, and his impact on the sports and those around him, undeniable.

Danke Toni.

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