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Real Madrid’s Kroos calls Saudi whistles at Supercopa ‘fun’

Toni Kroos described being whistled by fans during Real Madrid’s Spanish Supercopa games in Saudi Arabia as “fun,” and said that if anything they proved he was “probably right” in criticising players for moving to the country.

The midfielder was whistled every time he touched the ball during Madrid’s 5-3 semifinal win over Atletico Madrid in Riyadh last Wednesday, and again during their 4-1 final thrashing of Barcelona to lift the trophy.

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Kroos has been a vocal critic of players deciding to join the Saudi Pro League, calling former Celta Vigo playmaker Gabri Veiga’s switch to Al Ahli last summer “embarrassing” and saying signing for a Saudi club was “a decision for the money, and against football.”

“I didn’t expect it at all,” Kroos said in the latest episode of the podcast “Einfach mal Luppen,” which he hosts with brother Felix.

“The background is that I don’t think it’s good for young players to go [to Saudi Arabia] and miss out on their development, on playing big games at a high level in Europe. That’s what I said about six months ago. But for me, it was already forgotten.”

After the semifinal win over Atletico — in which Kroos was introduced as a second-half substitute — the former Germany international joked about the whistles on social media, praising the “amazing crowd,” while coach Carlo Ancelotti said he “didn’t understand” the player’s reception.

“I realized it at some point during the [Atletico] game,” Kroos said. “At first, I didn’t connect it with myself. When you’re in a game, you’re more or less in the zone. Then I looked up at the stands and realized: ‘Oh, this is for you, just for you.’ I knew how to put two and two together.

“I can honestly say that it didn’t bother me or affect my play. On the contrary: it was quite fun.”

Kroos started the Supercopa final against Barcelona before being replaced by Luka Modric in the 81st minute.

“[The crowd] had chosen someone who touches the ball often,” Kroos said. “Over time [the whistling] might get boring. In the final, I noticed that it was getting less and less. When we made the substitution, they increased again.

“When you got used to it, it was fun. But it wasn’t much more than that. If anything, it confirmed my opinion that I was probably right!”

Kroos and Madrid play Atleti for the second time in just over a week in a Copa del Rey round-of-16 clash on Thursday.