Football News

“It’s the perfect moment” – Lothar Matthaus lauds Toni Kroos as tributes pour in after retirement announcement

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:30, 22 May 2024

Lothar Matthäus believes that Toni Kroos will be remembered as Germany’s greatest footballer.

The 1990 World Cup winner made these comments shortly after Kroos announced his upcoming retirement from professional football.

Kroos will end his illustrious 17-year playing career after representing Die Mannschaft at their home European Championship this summer.

His announcement had a global impact, prompting tributes from current and former teammates, as well as fans of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and the German national team, all of whom he served with distinction.

“Toni Kroos is one of the great players in the history of Real Madrid and that this club is and will always be his home,” Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said.

Matthäus’ words, though, will hold weight considering his status and where he sits in German football’s pantheon.

“He’s possibly the greatest German footballer, certainly one of the greatest,” he told Munich paper Abendzeitung.

“He has won the World Cup and Champions League so many times. He can crown himself with the European Championship title. It’s the perfect moment. Like Philipp Lahm, he’s leaving at the pinnacle.”

Matthäus also mentioned Kroos’ chances of securing the Ballon d’Or. “It depends on his performance and success in the Champions League and the European Championships,” he said.

Earlier this year, famed Argentine playmaker Juan Román Riquelme offered a unique description of the midfielder.

“Kroos comes closest to Federer,” he said during an interview with TNT. “They can play with the ball and go home without needing to take a bath. “It’s amazing. He doesn’t get dirty and doesn’t sweat.”

However, the most profound celebration was from Los Blancos teammate Federico Valverde, who posted an emotional tribute on social media.

“I guess when we were kids we all had an idol. The one we admired, the one we saw on TV and thought ‘I want to be like that’,” he wrote on Instagram.

“And if we were children with a lot of imagination, we could dream that we were playing ball with that idol, which was distant, untouchable, difficult to reach. That boy was me. That boy fulfilled his dream and played with the player he always had as an idol.

“Today with a strange feeling and a lump in my throat, I know that that child would have liked to play with you ten more years, and so would I, Toni. Because I never stopped being that child who always admired you.”

Valverde and Kroos will aim to conclude an incredible season with Real Madrid as they take on Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on June 1 for the European Cup.

Kroos will lift his sixth Champions League title if he succeeds, with five of those coming with Real Madrid and the other as part of Bayern’s successful team more than a decade ago, ironically at the expense of Dortmund at the home of English football.

With two more club fixtures to navigate, Kroos has accumulated 31 pieces of silverware, including three Bundesliga crowns and four La Liga titles.

Once the domestic season finishes, his international cap total will increase. With 108, the Greifswald had initially called time on his national service after Euro 2020 but reneged earlier this year.

Kroos’ return couldn’t have been more historic when he created Germany’s opener against France in just seven seconds.

“My ambition was always to finish my career at the peak of my performance level,” Kroos said in a post on his Instagram account.

“I am happy and proud that in my mind I found the right timing for my decision and that I could choose it on my own.”

Germany plays Scotland in the opening game of Euro 2024 on 14 June at Munich’s Allianz Arena.