Ancelotti lauds retiring Kroos as Madrid midfielder bows out of Bernabeu

By Sports Desk May 26, 2024

Real Madrid were fortunate to call upon Toni Kroos for a decade, said Los Blancos manager Carlo Ancelotti, after the Germany midfielder bade farewell to a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu.

Veteran Kroos played his final league game for Madrid on Saturday, with a goalless draw against Real Betis hardly befitting of his illustrious time with the LaLiga champions.

The 34-year-old will still have one more appearance to come for Los Blancos in next Saturday's Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium.

Yet having played for a final occasion at Madrid's storied home ground, Ancelotti was quick to praise Kroos.

"One of the greatest, obviously," Ancelotti told a press conference. "A very high-quality midfielder, with a fantastic character, with a small ego, very humble and always at the service of the team, very altruistic. What luck to have had him for 10 years.

"To do better than Kroos has done, in this team, is very complicated. He has made a very strong decision [to retire], because nobody could have imagined it, but he has shown a lot of character and to say goodbye like that is great.

"It is the farewell of a great football character and, I repeat, we have been lucky to have him here. Football has enjoyed a great player."

On his 306th LaLiga appearance, a tally bettered by only one other German (Bernd Schuster, with 316), Kroos bowed out in typical style, having the most touches (122), creating the most chances (three), playing the most passes (110) and completing the most passes (107) of any player on the pitch.

"I can only say thank you to all the Madridismo, to the club, to my team mates, to the stadium," Kroos told reporters after his Madrid farewell.

"I've always felt at home during these 10 years. I couldn't ask for more. They have been 10 unforgettable years.

"I was pretty strong until I saw my children, that moment killed me."

Kroos will end his playing days with the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament, where he will hope to guide hosts Germany to glory on home soil.

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