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Kroos sets sights high

‘I’m aiming to become a first-team regular’

Just a year ago, Toni Kroos was able to make his way from the former professionals’ quarters at the Säbener Strasse back to his room in the club academy building without undue fuss or bother. Only insiders and experts paid any attention to the youngster, but the 18-year-old has now become a primary target for the autograph hunters and amateur snappers.

Named best player at the U-17 World Cup, Kroos’ first year as a pro included a last-minute winner in a UEFA Cup match in Belgrade, and the honour of becoming the youngest player ever to represent Bayern in the Bundesliga – not bad for someone still eligible to appear in the U-19 youth side. fcbayern.de met the Rostock-born shooting star and asked him to name his targets for the coming season, his chances of regular football, and his favourite position.

Interview: Toni Kroos

fcbayern.de: Toni, how much has your life changed in the last 12 or so months?
Toni Kroos: “There have certainly been a few changes. A year ago, I’d just completed a season in the U-19s, when I learnt I’d be spending pre-season with the first team. I’d trained with the seniors a couple of times. The coach told me I was capable of holding my own and that I’d get to play sometimes. It all happened very fast after that.“

fcbayern.de: Before your first game with the seniors, you had a fantastic U-17 World Cup.
Kroos: “Yes indeed. It wasn’t a bad tournament for me. It certainly helped me along the way, because it attracted a lot of attention. Then we had the game in Belgrade and my first matches in the Bundesliga – and suddenly I was basically a member of Ottmar Hitzfeld’s squad.“

fcbayern.de: With the benefit of hindsight, your career really took off before Christmas last term. How would you rate the rest of the campaign?
Kroos: “It was more or less the same in terms of playing time, but there may not have been the same great leaps forward. You could say the second half of the season was a stabilisation period. I finished with a total of 20 competitive appearances, which is certainly pretty special in your first year as a professional, especially here at Bayern.“

fcbayern.de: What are your targets for your second season with the seniors?
Kroos: “My target has to be making more appearances, that’s only logical. I haven’t arrived where I want to be yet. I want to become a first team regular at Bayern in the near future. It’s very competitive here and it won’t be easy, but I’m convinced I’m capable of playing plenty of games, certainly in terms of footballing ability.“

fcbayern.de: In what position?
Kroos: “(laughs)… obviously in my favourite position, which is central attacking midfield. I think that’s where I best play to my strengths. But at Bayern Munich you don’t go around insisting on a particular position, you’re just glad when you make the team. All I can do is get stuck in every time we train. At the end of the day, the coaching staff take the decisions.“

fcbayern.de: How would you assess your strengths and weaknesses?
Kroos: “I would say my strengths are shooting, set plays, passing and dribbling. I could definitely improve my heading and my defensive play. But we’re working on those right now.“

fcbayern.de: What’s your view of the early days with Jürgen Klinsmann and his team?
Kroos: “I think it’s going really well. Training is very intense with two sessions a day, and we’re spending the time from nine in the morning until six in the evening together. It’s definitely something new, but I have to say it’s been a lot of fun so far.“

fcbayern.de: You lived in the youth academy up until a couple of weeks ago, but you’ve now moved to your own apartment, and you’ve also passed your driving test. What’s it like now you’re looking after yourself?
Kroos: “I only have to worry about food in the evenings at the moment, because we’re eating the other meals together in the performance centre. I’m also having my laundry done, but otherwise I reckon living alone has its advantages. I still need a sat nav system when I’m driving, otherwise I’d never find my way around Munich.“

fcbayern.de: You have a 17-year-old younger brother Felix. Do you think you’ll ever end up in a professional team with him?
Kroos: “It’s a good question. I think Felix will stay in Rostock for a while, as he’s just been invited to train with the Hansa first team. Obviously, I’d love to play alongside him again at some point. Let’s see if our paths cross again sometime in the future.“

fcbayern.de: You’ve not appeared for Germany since the U-17 World Cup. Why?
Kroos: “We made an agreement that I should spend a year totally focused on Bayern. That’s nearly up now. We’ll see if the association still has any plans for me and whether I’m called up.“

fcbayern.de: Ottmar Hitzfeld said you could become a full international one day.
Kroos: “I’m really not thinking about that at all right now. My priority is to earn a place in the Bayern team. And then I’d echo Michael Rensing, who recently said: if you become a regular here and deliver the goods, the rest follows automatically.“