Created on 08-09-2008 at 00:00 AM
At the age of 16, Toni Kroos played for the Bayern U-19s. At 17 he featured in the third division reserves, and at precisely 17 years, 8 months and 22 days, he became the youngest player ever to represent FCB in the Bundesliga. In this sense, the ‘baby’ of the Bayern first team squad will have been completely unfazed by his Germany U-21 debut last Friday. The 18-year-old was easily the youngest player on the field, as some of his team-mates were fully three years older than him, but yet again his was the performance which caught the eye.
Kroos fired his side into the lead against Northern Ireland with an 11th-minute free-kick, and a rebound from his long-range shot on 28 minutes led to Germany’s second, effectively settling a match which went ended 3-0. “It was a fantastic debut. It couldn’t have gone better,” Kroos remarked afterwards, “but it was even more important that we won.”
German FA (DFB) director of sport Matthias Sammer felt Kroos had enjoyed “a good game“, although the Northern Irish were “not a true yardstick“. Sammer described Kroos' potential as “exceptional. He has the ability to make the difference.“ Germany U-21 coach Dieter Eilts also feels the youngster possesses “enormous potential. He showed his individual class in the U-17s. He simply has a feel for the right thing to do in any situation.“
Named best player at the U-17 World Cup a year ago, Kroos and the DFB agreed the midfielder should take a 12-month time-out from the junior international scene in order to focus on establishing himself at Bayern. The plan has clearly worked out, as the midfielder has gained valuable senior experience with the FCB reserves, and even ended the campaign with 20 first-team appearances in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Cup.