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National Teams > Men > A

Ćorluka says goodbye

Farewell to my
favourite jersey

Farewell to my favourite jersey
photo by: HNS
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Croatia vice-captain, World Cup runner-up and one of the Club 100 members, Vedran Ćorluka, retires from international duty.

In 2002, when I put on this jersey for the first time, I was just a 16-year-old kid overjoyed with an opportunity to defend Croatia colours in youth categories. I could not have imagined, or dared to dream, what this jersey will mean to me later on, what will I experience wearing it, and how this jersey will define not just my football career, but my entire life.

145 matches later, 103 in the senior national team, it is time to say goodbye to this jersey. And thank you.

Thank you for letting me meet many wonderful people that shared Croatia dressing room with me. Many of them will remain my friends for life. These are my teammates, and we were singing, crying, celebrating and grieving together, having the most beautiful and most difficult moments of our careers.

These are all the managers and coaches that made me a better players. These are all the nice people among the staff and the Croatian Football Federation, that are doing a brilliant job to enable us the optimal conditions.

The general public sees only the matches, but the national team is much more. Massages at 3 a.m., awaiting the results of MRI, endless air and bus travels, press conferences, meetings, lunches - all this is included. This life would be much more difficult without Croatia being a true family. There are disagreements, but in the end, we always stand by each other. This is what makes Croatia special.

I have travelled throughout the world in this jersey. I have played in major competitions, against the greatest teams and the greatest players. I have experienced winning against Germany, Spain, or England, as well as losing to Georgia or failing to reach the World Cup.

I have experienced Portugal. And Mexico.

Not to forget Turkey. We have all experienced Turkey.

And then, I had the privilege, luck, honour, reward - I don't know how to name it - to experience Russia.

I would be more than happy with my international career without this Russian experience, there have been many victories and moments to remember. However, it was Russia that finally confirmed these emotions that the 16-year-old kid from the beginning could not have imagined.

All the matches in the mud, all the hard work at the practice sessions, all the long trips, all the defeats, all the matches behind closed doors, the criticism, the "unfulfilled potential" tags - all of this was erased in one-month fairy tale, when Croatia's dreams came true and we became World Cup runners-up. It's still incredible to say or write this. A half of million people welcomed us back home? Did it really took us six hours to the main square? Did we really sing "Lijepa li si" in front of this crowd, wearing silver medals our necks?

The most beautiful and the dearest jersey in the world, the Croatia jersey, made this possible. I have had the opportunity to share the strongest of emotions with my teammates, as well as with our great fans - thank you for your support! All these moments - both beautiful and less beautiful - I have experienced with my family and friends, and I cannot thank them enough for all the support throughout my career.

In return, I gave all that I had for this jersey. I have learned this for my predecessors. 

I expect nothing less from those that will wear it in the future, and I will be their biggest supporter. Above all - Croatia! 

Vedran Ćorluka

foto: Arhiva HNS


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