Toni Kroos keeps promise, plans to go out on top

Toni Kroos has announced that he will retire from professional football at the end of Euro 2024 this summer.
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No MLS, no Saudi Arabia, no return to Germany, no hanging about, and as expected, absolutely no nonsense. Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, aged 34, has announced his intention to retire from professional football at the end of this summer’s European Championship.

The announcement came on Tuesday afternoon through a post on his social media channels, with Real Madrid’s channels putting out a similar statement expressing their gratitude. Kroos joined the Spanish giants in 2014 from Bayern Munich for a fee of €25 million. The German midfielder has since made 463 appearances and won 22 titles with Real Madrid across ten years, including four La Liga titles and four Champions League titles.

“Toni Kroos will forever remain in the hearts of all Madrid fans for the excellence of his football and for being a player who has given everything for this shirt, always representing the values ​​of Real Madrid,” the club statement read.

“...This decision means that my career as an active footballer will end this summer after the Euro championship. As I have always said: Real Madrid is and will be my last club. I am happy and proud, that in my mind I found the right timing for my decision and that I could choose it by my own. My ambition was always to finish my career at the peak of my performance level,” Kroos’ personal statement read.

Kroos’ statement was met with an outpour of affection, admiration and gratitude from his teammates, fellow players and fans.

The German is coming off perhaps his most successful season at Real Madrid, in the heart of an otherwise very young midfield. Kroos has been an integral part of manager Carlo Ancelotti’s team success and has played a pivotal role in Real Madrid winning the Spanish Super Cup and La Liga, as well as reaching the UEFA Champions League final, set to be played against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium next week.

Kroos has, on many occasions in the past, spoken about ending his career early and not continuing on when he feels he is not able to play at the top level.

“I always wanted to leave at the peak of my abilities and I know, and from a lot of examples you see, that it isn’t easy, that you can miss that point in time very quickly,” Kroos once said on his podcast, Einfach mal Luppen, that he hosts with his brother.

This news is not altogether shocking given Kroos’ known reticence to prolong his career, but it is slightly surprising since it was reported earlier in the year that Kroos was negotiating a one-year contract extension with the club. Kroos previously announced his international retirement in 2021, after Germany’s poor showing in the 2020 European Championship, where he received strong criticism for the team's results. In March 2024, he announced a surprise return to the national team for the upcoming Euros, at the request of head coach Julian Nagelsmann. 

Many believed, and hoped really, that this return might lead to Kroos deciding to continue playing for at least one or two more seasons, given that he has not experienced any sort of significant physical decline. He has undoubtedly been Real Madrid’s most important midfielder this season and brings an unmatched degree of composure, calmness and control to even the most frenzied of games, for both club and country.

But, as Kroos stated, he is bowing out on his own terms, which while saddening to fans around the world, is respectable in a way we do not often get to see in football these days. Most players choose to take a final payday or move to a less intense league to continue playing. But not Kroos. In an almost Zidane-esque fashion, he will retire knowing that he was, even in his very last game, one of the best in the world. Does it get better than that?


And so, Kroos’ last appearance for Real Madrid will be the upcoming Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund, where they are heavy favorites to win a record 15th title, Kroos’ sixth if they do. His last appearance for Germany will be at the upcoming Euros, where they are again heavy favorites to be crowned Champions on home soil. Talk about going out on a high.