Marco Reus or Toni Kroos? Who will bow out with the UEFA Champions League trophy in their hands on Saturday? - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
Marco Reus or Toni Kroos? Who will bow out with the UEFA Champions League trophy in their hands on Saturday? - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

Marco Reus and Toni Kroos: Germany legends aiming to cap careers with Champions League glory


Marco Reus and Toni Kroos will leave Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, respectively, after the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley on 1 June. Reus will head for pastures new, while Kroos calls time on his club career before hanging up his boots for good after UEFA Euro 2024, with London a fitting place to meet in their final showdown.

That's because, while the two teams may be meeting in a European final for the very first time, Reus and Kroos have been here before.

Eleven years, almost to the day, have passed since a then 24-year-old Reus came up short against a Bayern Munich side that had a 23-year-old Kroos on their books.

Wembley was also the host that day in a final which Kroos ultimately missed through injury, adding a layer of personal regret to an otherwise incredible achievement as Bayern beat Dortmund in dramatic fashion.

Reus did play that day, winning the penalty for İlkay Gündoğan to convert and make the score 1-1 before Arjen Robben's late heroics claimed one of the most significant Klassiker victories in the long history of one of world football's greatest fixtures.

Watch: The story of Marco Reus

At that stage of their careers, the paths of Reus and Kroos were largely intertwined; as domestic rivals and the poster boys of a new era for the national team.

Since, though, Kroos has gone on to become a legend in Madrid and comfortably outstripped Reus when it comes to silverware.

Not that that takes anything away from Reus' career, however, as he has established himself as a true legend at the Signal Iduna Park - he is the Dortmund boy done good.

Reus moved back to his hometown team following Dortmund's second successive championship in a row in 2012 and has gone on to shape BVB for a decade as the club's leader of the pack and chief tormentor.

He has been a symbol of the club, defined by his loyalty to the shirt and the tireless work-ethic that is as central to his game as creating and scoring goals.

Watch: Marco Reus bids farewell to the Yellow Wall

However, as in London, Reus has largely been denied the big titles, with injury and heartbreak - just look at 2022/23's final day disappointment - leaving him with just two DFB Cup wins and three Super Cup victories.

Injury even robbed Reus of featuring in Germany's 2014 FIFA World Cup win, his hopes dashed in his country's final friendly before the tournament.

Kroos flourished at that World Cup and his trophy collection is borderline ridiculous thanks to his generational talent, consistency and a fair amount of luck in avoiding the same kind of injuries which have robbed us of seeing more of Marco Reus.

A former Bayer Leverkusen loanee as well as three-time Bundesliga champion with Bayern, Kroos will go down as one of Real's all-time greats for his role in the team's three Champions League glories on the spin (he then added a fourth in 2022), let alone the four LaLiga titles, five FIFA Club World Cups and three UEFA Super Cups.

He has picked up a whopping 32 winners' medals as a Bayern, Real and Germany player, which all add up to one of the most decorated footballers in the history of the game.

Toni Kroos (l.) and Marco Reus (r.) together with the German national team 2018. - Imago Images/Moritz Müller

Champions League and European Championship trophies before he calls time on his career would ram home his case, but few would wish to deny Reus in what will be one final match in a Dortmund shirt, and a last shot at claiming the kind of gold his career truly deserves.

A whole 11 years and six days on from when their careers split in different directions, there may be an air of 'what-ifs' about the occasion.

However, regardless of who comes out on top at the final whistle, Reus and Kroos will both be celebrated for the legacies they leave behind on Saturday.