Nagelsmann pays tribute to Kroos and a team that has united a nation

July 6 – Julian Nagelsmann defended Germany’s performance after their quarter-final exit from Euro 2024 in a 2-1 extra-time defeat at the hands of Spain, highlighting the team’s investment in the tournament and Toni Kroos’s class. He called on Germany to unite as a society. 

Mikel Merino’s 119th-minute strike shattered Germany’s dream of reaching the last four and the final in Berlin, but Nagelsmann, who has had a wobbly time steering the national team back to the elite, believed that the hosts were the better team against La Roja.

“The whole game was too open and then in the second half we reacted with our personnel in a good way and we came better into the game,” said Nagelsmann.

“And after the 60th minute we were clearly the better team with many clear chances and towards the end I think that we scored was well deserved.”

“With the exception of the first five minutes of the second half of extra time I think it was almost only us who wanted to win. We had the chances, we missed the goal only by two centimetres so I think we were really into the game and then with the last chance we conceded.

“I don’t know if we opened up too much, if we risked too much, if someone wants to ask me that question I would say no. But unfortunately in that situation we didn’t have enough pressure on the wing and Dani Olmo was able to play this super nice cross.”

A controversial moment perhaps decided the match as Germany claimed a penalty in extra time when Jamal Musiala’s shot hit the hand of Marc Cucurella, but English referee Anthony Taylor did not award a spot kick. UEFA had apparently briefed officials on handballs, arguing that they should not award a penalty when the arm, close to the body, points predominantly downward and/or is in a position behind the line of the body.

“I don’t want to talk too much about it but I want to use this stage here just to talk about football in general also for others maybe,” said Nagelsmann.

“It would be nice if it would be assessed what is the intention behind the ball. This is quite simple so we should really assess the intention of the shot where the shot went towards. I think they applied a rule that finally this wasn’t a penalty. But certainly this wasn’t the only reason why we lost the game.”

Nagelsmann lamented that Germany won’t have the opportunity anytime soon to win a tournament on home soil. It was also Toni Kroos’s last professional match and the midfielder received warm applause after the final whistle from the stands.

Nagelsmann praised the retiring midfielder, who greeted the German and Spanish fans with despair etched on his face, but the dignity of having steered his national team back to a respectable standing.

“Toni’s career cannot be valued highly enough,” said the Germany manager. “What everyone sees and what’s obvious are the sporting successes he celebrated which are extraordinary and will probably remain unique for a German player for a long time, maybe forever. Certainly, one of the greatest German players.

“I have to say I found it really bizarre in the weeks before it leaked out that I wanted to bring him back, that no one really thought it was a good idea. Four weeks after he was back, everyone said they had that idea for a long time, why is the national coach only doing it now?”

Kroos is one of the most decorated German players of all time and ranks among his nation’s very best, and even if he couldn’t sign off with a European championship title Nagelsmann highlighted his personality outside of the game.

“And he has this human way with his children, with his wife, with his teammates,” Nagelsmann said. “All these things are extraordinary, and for me they rank much higher than six Champions League titles in an assessment of his career.”

Nagelsmann also stressed the importance of the national team as a symbol for the country that has laboured under strife and political division in recent months.

He said: “I want the boys to take this with them, that we have collectively managed to wake up a country that, in my opinion, is falling into far too much self-interest, into constant sadness and into doom-mongering, and to give it some nice moments. And I hope that this symbiosis between football fans and the football team also takes place in normal society, that we understand that we can simply achieve more as a community, a collective society, rather than that everyone does their own thing and wants to be more individual than their neighbour. We are stronger together.”

“With fans, you are stronger than without, with your neighbour you are stronger than without.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1721244764labto1721244764ofdlr1721244764owedi1721244764sni@i1721244764tnuk.1721244764ardni1721244764mas1721244764