Borna Sosa on Decision to Play for Germany: Croatia Doesn’t Need Me

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Marko Prpic / PIXSELL
Marko Prpic / PIXSELL

An unforgettable day is behind Borna Sosa, one of the greatest Croatian talents who, with a brilliant game in the Bundesliga, provoked the legendary Oliver Bierhoff and the German Football Federation to urgently arrange for his German citizenship and status in their national team. The young defender has just made the most important transfer in his career and announced that he would play for Germany in the future, while Croatia has been left without the player it has been waiting for for 20 years, since the farewell of Robert Jarni.

Sosa is one of the best offensive defenders in Europe, plays as a left-back, and excels in the Stuttgart jersey, where he arrived from Dinamo in 2018 in a transfer worth six million euros. He was a member and occasional captain of the U21 Croatia national team, but he never received an invitation from the A team. When the news about the acquisition of the German Federation was published on Friday, panic started in all HNS structures. 

The first HNS operative, director Marijan Kustić, claims that he found out about the German Football Federations’ offensive the day before yesterday, coach Zlatko Dalić believes that Sosa knew he should make his debut in the match against Malta in March and that his former assistant Ivica Olic led the operation, while the young football player says that he never saw Olic, but received messages through intermediaries.

Sosa agreed to tell his side of the story and made claims that could cause great damage to the responsible HNS operatives.

In the Croatian media, your transfer to the national team of Germany is the topic of the day, but there are many different messages and contradictory statements. Did you get to read any of that?

Yes, I have seen the statements in the Croatian media, and I will answer everything you ask me.

Tell us what is true. Why did you decide to play for Germany?

I decided to play for Germany because I think I am already 24 years old, I have played in the Bundesliga for three years, and I am still without a performance in the A national team. I realized that Croatia is not counting on me and thinking they have better players in my position. I respect that attitude and their decision, there is no anger, and we remain on good terms. I decided to play for Germany.

Have you talked about this with HNS before?

I’m not the type who waits for others to pull moves; I pull them when I think it’s good and necessary. I made the decision personally. This season I had no contact with people from Croatia’s A national team, and no one ever called me from HNS. I spoke with Dalic for the first time this morning when the news came out that I had decided on Germany.

Is it true that you received a guarantee that you would make your debut against Malta in the qualifiers for Qatar?

That’s not true. Dalic did not tell me that I would make my debut against Malta, nor did we ever talk. There was speculation, there was talk about it, and you wrote that Dalic was talking about it. Officially, I never received any invitation from the Croatia national team.

Did Ivica Olic come to Stuttgart matches and follow your performances? We were told that Olic, now a former assistant coach of Dalic, was in charge of following you and informing you about Dalic’s plans.

Olic did not come, as far as I know. I don’t know what his role is, but he told me through a third person that I will be invited to the A national team in March, i.e., in the opening cycle of the Qatar World Cup qualifiers. I never talked to Olic, there were some messages through intermediaries, and I didn’t take it seriously. The only invitation I ever received from Croatia was sent to me by the coach of the U21 national team, Igor Bišćan, and, as you know, I responded. I played in the Euro qualifiers.

If you had received Dalic’s call earlier, what would you have done?

If I had received Dalic’s invitation and played in March, or there in September and October last year when there were opportunities, I would have played for Croatia. There have been many gatherings, and I am no longer 17 but 24 years old. Unfortunately, it was not feasible for me to receive an invitation from Croatia and our paths diverged. I received Dalic’s support and understanding this morning, and I thank him. He wished me luck; I wish him the same. Big things are waiting for me. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to play with such greats, mostly Bayern players.

What are your experiences with the U21 national team? Why didn’t you come to the Euro?

I also had some injury problems then, and after I received a red card in the last qualifying match and a suspension for the first two games at the Euros with the young national team, my club decided for me to stay there. They said they didn’t want me to go to the national team because I didn’t have the right to play in the tournament’s first two games due to a red card. There was no reason for them to take the risk and send me to train with the young national team if there is no need. Personally, I also think that there is no point in taking risks, the rhythm of the matches is crazy anyway, and every detail should be paid attention to. The club made the decision; they explained to me that they didn’t want me to get hurt and lose me unnecessarily. I couldn’t play for the national team anyway.

But the match against England is disputable when the suspension expired. It was a key match to get to the quarterfinals. You told Bišćan that you were injured, and a few days later, you played for Stuttgart. What happened?

There will always be speculation, but I won’t deal with it. I don’t want to get into arguments, and I wouldn’t talk about it too much because tensions are rising and unnecessary. I sent Bišćan a doctor’s report in which it was clearly written that I was not in the best condition. The problem is always the same, my right knee. Maybe some people don’t believe I’m hurt, but those who follow my career know how much I’ve been through so far. Maybe some people can’t understand it at all. I don’t blame anyone.

It’s hard to count all the injuries you went through during the first two seasons in the Bundesliga – your back, knee, edema, concussion … How do you feel now, and are you satisfied with the season, the results, and your game?

I can’t be happier than I am now, both because of the personal game and because of the whole team. After two seasons where I struggled with injuries, this year, everything fell into place. I collected ten assists. I healed an injury that caused me to miss three games before last night’s game against Augsburg. It is rare for defenders to collect so many assists in a season.

After checking the data in the top 5 leagues, only Cuadrado is better and has one more assist.  

Yes, I know about that fact. Crossing is my forte, and it has nothing to do with the system in which Stuttgart plays. I honed the strongest weapon I have and can center if needed from Mars as well. If I’m sure of anything in life, then it’s my crossing, ha-ha.

What impression did the director of the German federation, the famous striker Oliver Bierhoff, leave on you?

The German Federation is the strongest in the world, and Bierhoff, as the chief operative, proved to be a man of his word. He is calm and sticks to what he says; you can’t function any differently in Germany.

How long will it take to join the German national team?

The whole story takes about two to three months. They did everything we could to resolve the citizenship as soon as possible, and I am very grateful for that.

How did it start?

They found out that my mom was born in Germany, and they got in touch with me. We started the process, and we were constantly communicating. They came to every game I played. They said I was responding to them as a player for the German national team system.

Have you ever met coach Dalic?

I don’t remember; I think I saw him once in my life, nothing official. Thus, HNS had information for two months that I had an offer from Germany. I personally reported this to one director.

Which director? There are not many directors in HNS?

It doesn’t matter; I really don’t want to name names. It’s over. I told them I had an offer from Germany and to talk to them. That was it; no one from HNS contacted me after that. They made their decision; I made mine, there is no evil, and no tension should be created.

You must have read the comments of angry fans. How do you deal with that?

I try to explain to people that this is a business decision. Many call me a traitor, but they do not understand that I still love Croatia the most, and it will always be my country, the country of my family and friends. I do not play for the Croatia national team, but I still love my country. In the business world, I decided to play football for Germany.

Are you already on Germany’s list for the Euros?

I don’t know if we will reach the Euro; FIFA will solve the change of my citizenship, it is a technical matter, and it may not be resolved by the Euro. But that’s not crucial for me; I’m thinking about the next 10 to 12 years with the German national team.

The sporting director of Stuttgart called you the new Beckham. How about that?

He said that last year. It’s funny that the director announced before the season that I have the best-left foot in the Bundesliga, but people didn’t believe him. I’m so glad now, not so much for me … I know what I can do. I am glad that I did not let the director down; now everyone knows that he has good grades. I am nicknamed the “god of crossing” in Germany.

Will you go to Bayern this summer?
As for the transfer to Bayern, where there is smoke, there is also fire. There will be an interesting transition period.

Will you support Croatia at the Euro?

Yes, unless Croatia plays against Germany, ha-ha. Croatia will always be my beautiful country, and in Germany, I decided to develop football. Thanks to everyone who decided to help me along the way.

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