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Dejan Lovren says goodbye to the Vatreni
photo by: Drago Sopta/HNS

National Teams > Men > A

Lovren's open letter

Dejan Lovren says
goodbye to the

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Two-time World Cup medal winner and long-standing center back of the Vatreni Dejan Lovren says goodbye to the Croatian national team in an open letter.

Dear teammates, dear Croatia fans, 

I want to address you today with some somber news, but believe me, the decision that I am about to announce is one that I made with an open heart and after a lot of consideration. This announcement doesn’t come easily to me, and while I am writing this letter, I am doing my best not to cry, but I hope that by now you have come to know me as a man with heart and a man that does not hide his emotions. 

The time has come for me to say my final goodbye to the Croatian national team, though I will forever remain a huge supporter of the Vatreni and will follow the team in each coming match. 

As a child, I dreamt of playing at major tournaments and getting to put on that red-and-white shirt. I put on the Croatian checkers for the first time when I was nine years old and I will never forget that special feeling – like putting on Superman’s cape. I felt powerful, confident, and fearless, just like my favorite superhero. 

Words can’t fully capture that feeling. 

I will forever remember October 8, 2009 as my first appearance for Croatia. 

I played for all of the youth teams, but I always wanted to reach the peak of that mountain and to be capped for the senior team. To me, playing for the Vatreni would allow me to show what I can do in front of the entire world. 

To be honest, I expected more from myself in the beginning. There were several matches where I was disappointed by the way I had played, where I thought I could have given much more, but it took a while for things to fall into place for me. To be even more painfully honest, at one point I had even thought about leaving the Vatreni long before my time to retire had come. F***, I was young, and I wasn’t very patient. I hope you don’t take this against me because, in the end, I listened to my heart and continued playing – and you, the fans, were a huge part of that decision. 

I want to tell every single young football player in the country that they must look at the Croatian national team as a completely other dimension of football – look at these players as your superheroes. 

The most beautiful chapters of my national team story were the ones that we wrote during the past five years. This is, if I’m being honest, still a complete dream to me. So many emotions went through me, especially in 2018 and 2022, and I find it difficult to put these experiences into words. I lived my life in hope that I would get to experience moments like those and, when they did come, I lived them with immense pride. These memories will remain in my heart forever. 

I want to thank all of the head coaches I worked with, starting with my first head coach Slaven Bilić, and including Igor Štimac, Niko Kovač, Ante Čačić, and Zlatko Dalić. Every single one of you left their mark on me and I will always be thankful for what you’ve taught me.  

I want to thank all of my former and current teammates on this beautiful, unforgettable journey. We had our ups and downs, we cried together and we celebrated together, and I’ll always carry you in my heart. I spent more than a decade playing with some of you. I see you as my brothers, and you stood by me in my toughest moments. Thank you.  

Thank you to the team behind the scenes that’s been with us since day one. I can’t list them all here, but we all know who they are. You are the heart of this team, and though your faces might not be on covers as much as they deserve, trust me – we are nothing without you.  

I’d like to say one final thing – I might be stepping down as a player, but at least you’re gaining a new fan. Let’s stick by each other’s side, like we have so far, because the unity among us has always been the one quality that sets us apart from everyone else – it is our greatest strength. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. 



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