Toni Kroos told Germany coach on Euro return: ‘Let’s rock’

Julian Nagelsmann is glad to have former Real Madrid star Toni Kroos back on his side as they prepare to host the 2024 European Championship, but the Germany coach said his return didn’t come without some serious persuading.

“It took a period of time to convince him because he wanted to know what we were going to change in the future for the national team,” Nagelsmann said ahead of Germany’s opener against Scotland in Munich on Friday. “He said to me, one of the first phone calls, that he only will be part of the team when he has the feeling that we can win something, with the team.”

Nagelsmann laid out his plan for Kroos, who had retired from international football in 2021, and said he had plenty of questions to answer from the the six-time Champions League winner with Madrid.

“And so you want to know what are the next steps?” Nagelsmann was asked by Kroos last year. “What are the next decisions, how we change the team. And I told him, and then he said, ‘Yes, I will be part of it’ and ‘Let’s rock!'”

Now Kroos, who confirmed his return to Germany in February, will try to help the hosts beat a dangerous Scotland team that boasts several Premier League players and beat Spain during qualification.

“Scotland isn’t a team full of world stars, but that makes them dangerous, because they are very agile players who give everything, with classic Scottish mentality,” Nagelsmann said at a news conference on Thursday.

While Germany do feel the pressure and tension ahead of the tournament’s opening game, that was necessary, Nagelsmann added, and the team is fully fit and prepared.

“When I look in my players’ eyes, I see a lot of belief and a lot of confidence, which is what I want,” the former Bayern Munich coach said. “We have the home advantage, we want to win.

“We can beat pressure, and we can beat Scotland, as well.”

Germany have won four World Cups and three European Championship titles, but their stellar tournament reputation has been somewhat tarnished with a series of failures since a 2014 World Cup victory in Brazil.

They went out of the next two World Cups in the group stage, their worst showing in over 80 years, and exited the last European Championship in the round of 16.

“We will have more pressure on us than Scotland, and they will want to capitalise on that,” Nagelsmann, who took over as Germany manager in October 2023, said.

Scotland can create chances and retain ball possession and will put the Germany defence under stress in the Group A match.

“We have to stay focused to avoid crosses,” he added.

Nagelsmann also said he was feeling emotional ahead of the match, describing how he comes from a tiny village with 700 inhabitants and more cows than people, and now was preparing for the opening game of Euro 2024 in Munich.

Germany captain Ílkay Gündogan said Nagelsmann gave the players clarity and conveyed a sense of calm, which had helped the team.

“The coach gives us confidence, a clear direction, he has discussed roles with us,” Gundogan said. “Everyone knows what is expected of them and can give their all on the pitch, and that helps us a great deal after the negative experiences of the last tournaments.

“No other game is like the first one, because then you can use that momentum and that euphoria for the next few games, and that is why the most important objective tomorrow is to win the game.”

After their match against Scotland, Germany will face Hungary and Switzerland in a bid to reach the round of 16 and lift the trophy on home soil.

Information from Reuters was used in this story.