Toni Kroos says Julen Lopetegui’s sacking after just four months at Real Madrid ‘left a bitter taste’ in his mouth as the German midfielder reflects on ‘s****y moment’ in his new podcast
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has apologised to Julen Lopetegui and said his former manager’s sacking after four months back in 2018 ‘left a bitter taste’ in his mouth.
Lopetegui was chosen as successor to Zinedine Zidane after the Frenchman elected to walk away on the back of a third successive Champions League title in 2018.
But four-and-a-half months into his tenure Lopetegui was axed with Madrid chiefs unhappy at a 5-1 El Clasico hammering at the hands of rivals Barcelona.
Toni Kroos (right) has reflected on the sacking of Julen Lopetegui (left) on his new podcast
Lopetegui (right) was axed after four months in the job and it ‘left a bitter taste’ for Kroos (left)
Lopetegui has been able to bounce back and is thriving with Sevilla but Kroos remains haunted by how the 54-year-old was treated and it continues to bother him more than two years later.
‘Lopetegui’s dismissal was the one that hurt me the most on a personal level because he is a first-rate coach and person,’ Kroos said in his new podcast Einfach mal Luppen.
‘He came to the club just after the three Champions Leagues and after Cristiano (Ronaldo) left. It was clear that it was not going to be an easy year.’
The German midfielder expressed how ‘sorry’ he was that the side did not succeed under him
In a statement announcing his dismissal, the board considered there to be ‘a large disparity between the quality within the squad and the results’. At the time, Lopetegui was able to boast eight nominees for the 2019 Ballon d’Or award.
Lopetegui has quite the career CV of jobs and in Kroos’ opinion, it was only at Real where the coach had a ‘s****y moment’.
‘Honestly, I was very sorry,’ he continued. ‘It was the dismissal that I felt most of all, because I was and continue to be sure of his ability as a coach and as a person. It left a bitter taste in my mouth. It was a story that marked me a lot as a player.’
Lopetegui did not let his chastening experience at the Bernabeu define him and has since gone on to claim silverware with Sevilla.
Lopetegui has since galvanised his career as he lifted the Europa League as Sevilla manager
He masterminded the Spanish side’s route to the 2019-20 Europa League final where they overcame Inter Milan to win the trophy.
It was silverware Kroos was delighted to see in the hands of his old boss.
‘He only had a s****y moment when he was Madrid coach,’ Kroos said.
‘I was very happy for him when he won the Europa League with Sevilla , he deserved it. He did a great job but he was unlucky and if there are no results it is not a good time (for Real Madrid).’