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National Teams > Men > A

Vice-captain retires

It was a privilege
to have Vedran

It was a privilege to have Vedran Ćorluka
photo by: Drago Sopta/HNS
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Croatia vice-captain Vedran Ćorluka retires from the national team as a Club 100 member, one of the best Croatia defenders, and a symbol of persistence, perseverance, and team spirit.

foto: Drago Sopta/HNS

A month after the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Vedran Ćorluka explained his decision to retire from the national team in an emotion-packed letter.

A versatile, skilled defender was born on 5 February 1986 in Derventa, begun his club career in Dinamo Zagreb, including a loan to Inter Zaprešić, winning four domestic trophies. In 2007, he moved to Premiership - signing for Manchester City, and later for Tottenham. Following four seasons at White Hart Lane, and a loan to Bayer Leverkusen, he joined Lokomotiv Moscow.

In Moscow, he won the league title and two domestic cups, became a club captain, and his effort - regardless of the competition - was recognized through two important individual awards: Player of the Year by Lokomotiv supporters and Vatrena krila, by Croatia national team supporters.

foto: Drago Sopta/HNS

He embarked on the international waters in 2002, as a "16-year-old kid overjoyed with an opportunity to defend Croatia colours at least once, in youth categories". Finally, he wore Croatia jersey 145 times in total, 103 in the senior national team. Ćorluka made his debut appearance in a 2006 friendly win over the newly-crowned world champions Italy in Livorno. He scored on four occasions, against Qatar, Turkey, Estonia, and Macedonia.

Despite his young age, under the leadership of manager Bilić, he became one of the key players of Croatia's defence, giving a major contribution to a memorable success in EURO 2008 qualifying, when Croatia topped Russia, leaving England empty-handed at Wembley. Ćorluka was equally important at the final tournament in Austria/Switzerland, with Croatia winning all three group stage matches and then losing to Turkey in dramatic circumstances. "We have all experienced Turkey", Ćorluka remembered his tears after this disappointment.

Another disappointment was failing to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, but Ćorluka was then irreplaceable in successful EURO 2012 Poland/Ukraine, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, EURO 2016 France, and 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia campaigns, developing his role as a natural-born leader on the pitch. 

foto: Drago Sopta/HNS

His burning desire to see Croatia's potential fulfilled - after unfortunate losses to Spain, Mexico, and Portugal - has finally been realised this summer. "I had the privilege, luck, honour, reward - I don't know how to name it - to experience Russia". With a World Cup silver around his neck, following a one-month fairy-tale, he could close the doors on his international career with head held high, his dreams coming true.

A leader both on and off the pitch, he will be remembered as one of the key members of the World Cup squad that recorded the biggest achievement of Croatian football in history. Ćorluka embodied the team spirit with his humble approach, celebrating his 100-cap jubilee coming off the bench in added time against Argentina. Manager Dalić was clear: "Ćorluka set a standard with his example - no individual can be more important than the team".

Simultaneously, he showed what an individual can mean to the team, and the future is bound to confirm that Croatia will remember Vedran Ćorluka in the extremely positive light of praise. 

foto: Drago Sopta/HNS

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