Kroos, Germany's missing link
© Foto-net

A goal and an assist in Germany's 2-1 win over Ghana in the match for third-place was enough to convince the assembled press that Toni Kroos should be rewarded with the adidas Golden Ball for his outstanding performances at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007.

A deserved winner of the award, Kroos stood out throughout the competition for his vision and a range of skills not usually associated with German midfielders, perhaps better known for less aesthetically pleasing talents. To cap it all, the skipper chipped in with four assists and five goals, an impressive haul that also secured him the adidas Bronze Shoe as the third-highest scorer at Korea 2007.

And barely minutes after collecting the two trophies, Captain Kroos spoke exclusively to FIFA.com.

FIFA.com: How does it feel to have picked up these two awards?
Toni Kroos: It feels great of course. I'm very happy with my performances throughout the tournament as a whole, but I'd happily swap them for winning the world title with my team. There's no doubt, though, that it's a great honour to win these two awards.

Were you surprised to score five goals?
Not really. It's a part of my game, although I didn't really expect to get so many goals in a World Cup. Five goals in seven games is a pretty good return. I'm happy with that.

How do you feel about managing to perform at the level expected of you?
Well, I have to say that before the World Cup started I felt I could play well, at least as well as some of the better-known players who were coming to the tournament. It was once the competition got under way, though, that I realised I could handle the pressure on me and produce the goods for the team. So naturally I'm very happy with my performances here. What's surprised me is that I've managed to finish among the group of four or five players I was talking about.

Most people here have remarked that this is a skilful Germany team, one that has not played what you might describe as typically German football. What would you say to that?
We know all about that stereotype, and to be honest we started off playing like that, basing our game on our physical strength. But then we realised we could play a different type of game, try and attack a little more and work the ball around more. So the big challenge for us was to combine both things and become a more complete team. And I think we achieved that.

How far do you think this group of players can go?
We didn't really have much time to prepare for this tournament, but we improved as the days went by and things started to come together. Some of the boys will stay on and others will go, but I'm sure that if we can keep the core of the squad together, then Germany can expect great things in the future.