Darijo Srna said goodbye to football in the summer of 2019, leaving behind 10 Ukrainian championship titles, and countless matches for Croatia, Hajduk, Shakhtar, and Cagliari, as well as many unforgettable moments on the pitch.
In an emotional interview with Mojih TOP 11, a show hosted by Serbian journalist Nebojsa Petrovic, the former Croatia national team captain revealed some never-before-known details.
“Hajduk is my soul, and it hurts me when I see what is happening to the club.”
In the beginning, Srna emphasized his love for Hajduk, his favorite club.
“Hajduk is my soul, my heart. It is the biggest club in our area for me. It hurts me when I see what is happening with Hajduk, but we fans will never lose faith in Hajduk. It is our love. We were born with it. I will die as part of that family for five or six years. I won the Hajduk Heart trophy from the fans, which is the most valuable trophy for me, along with the one I received from the Croatia National Team’s Fan Club, ‘Forever Faithful.’ I remember my debut. I came in when we were losing 1-0, forced a foul, and Leko scored for 1-1. Later I went out against Piplica one on one. I missed, and then there was a break in the game. Torcida stormed the field, and we slept in the stadium for two or three days. That was my debut,” Srna said.
“I turned down Barcelona; I’m saying this for the first time.”
He revealed to Petrovic that he rejected Barcelona. It has been written about before, but Srna never publicly admitted that he rejected the Catalan giant four years ago.
“I rejected Barcelona, and when you reject it, then there are no more conversations. This is the first time I have publicly admitted that I rejected Barcelona at the age of 34. It was decided by the heart. At the time, Shakhtar was at war. We had been in Kyiv for two years. I felt I would let the fans down even though the president said he would respect any of my decisions. The heart said, ‘No.’ I’m not sorry,” said the former Croatia captain.
Srna points out that his dream was to play for Croatia and that it is not his fault that Luka Modrić will almost certainly overtake him in the number of caps for the national team. Srna is the record holder with 134 appearances, and Modrić has one less.
“I was both happy and sad about the silver medal in Russia.”
“When you are born where I was born, you have two wishes – to play for Hajduk and the Croatia national team. For us, the Croatia national team is everything. I would change all my club trophies if I were with them in Russia. Our love and our common strength mean so much. They asked me if I was sorry that Luka would overtake me in the number of caps. I said: ‘Well, my people, children dream of playing one game with their hand over the coat of arms, listening to their anthem, and I was the happiest man in the world 134 times.’ There is no better moment in football. I was still happy to be the captain of my national team over 60 times, to be first in line with all my teammates. That meant the world to me,” said Srna.
Fate led Srna to the national team two years after they won the bronze medal at the 1998 World Cup in France and said goodbye two years before the silver medal at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He is both happy and sad.
“I was happy as a little kid but also unhappy that I wasn’t there. Looking at the bronze medal from 1998 … I came to the national team in 2000 and left in 2016. The silver was in 2018. I was two years late. I’m not sorry. I consider myself part of that family,” Srna said.
“I promised my father I would play”
It will always be remembered that Srna played against the Czech Republic at Euro 2016, just five days after his father passed away.
“I gathered my courage and promised my father that I would play in the European Championship,” Srna revealed.
The former captain also spoke about the current captain of Croatia, Luka Modrić, who he considers to be the best footballer in the history of this area.
“Modrić is a phenomenon.”
“‘Phenomenon.’ And that nickname says more than a thousand words. I claim that he is the greatest player of all time in our area. I mean the whole region. On a par with Deja Savićević, Piksi Stojković, Davor Šuker. Kudos to everyone, but Luka is number one. That head, that character. Winner of the Golden Ball, three-time Champions League winner, second with Croatia at the World Cup. I tip my hat to him,” Srna said.
Srna also touched on Marijo Mandžukić, who he says is a fighter unlike anyone else he’s met.
“If he weren’t like that, he wouldn’t have made a career. He is a fighter who doesn’t bend for anyone, not even two percent. Don’t touch him on match day,” Srna said.
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