Ivan Rakitić: “I was very close to recent terrorist attack in Barcelona”

Daniela Rogulj

Croatian representative and FC Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić reveals that he was minutes away from the 2017 Catalonia terror attack.

On the afternoon of August 17, 2017, a terrorist drove a van into pedestrians at one of Barcelona’s most famous streets – La Rambla. The attack, which killed 13 people and left 130 others injured, sent the world into shock.

We later learned that Croatian football star Ivan Rakitić nearly escaped the horrific incident after an interview with 24 Sata on September 24, 2017.

The Barcelona footballer announced to 24 Sata that he was minutes away from a close encounter with the attack, and thanks to his wife, Rakitić and his family remained unharmed. 

“During the recent terrorist attack in Barcelona, I was very close. I went downtown with my family, and we prepared to go to the place the attack happened. I wanted to go there, but my wife said it was a nice day and to let the kids play in the park outside our house. Thank God I listened to her.

We were three or four minutes away from going there. And as soon as people heard of the attack, many friends and family started to call me to check how we were,” Rakitić explains to 24 Sata.

Three days of mourning followed the attack, and the world-famous club FC Barcelona honored the victims of the attack during their La Liga opener with special shirts that displayed #TotsSomBarcelona instead of the footballer’s names. 

In the interview, the Croat also answered questions about the Croatian national team and their status going into the final World Cup qualifiers. 

“Of course, I am optimistic. Despite everything that has happened, we still hold first place, and I am confident that we will stay in first place once the group is complete. Frankly, I am not thinking much about Ukraine. The most important thing is to beat Finland and return to the winning track after an unlucky defeat in Turkey. When we finish against Finland, it will be much easier for us against Ukraine.”

And what does the footballer have to say about missing the game against Turkey due to injuries?

“I saw that in the Croatian media they wrote ‘how can I play for Barcelona and not for Croatia’. Honestly, I could not believe it when I saw some of the comments. And the truth is this. Against Kosovo, I felt a little tense in the last part of the game. Dr. Boris Nemec, a renowned European doctor, suggested that I do not play in the game against Turkey to not risk a possibly worse injury. Coach Čačić also agreed and told me that in no case should I risk it because I could miss these two key matches that are ahead of us. We decided that I would return to Barcelona. I did not train for three days. My muscles felt much better, and the coach decided that I could play against Espanyol. I am sorry about these comments because I have always given everything to Croatia. A number of times I have played with neither the doctors nor the coach knowing that I was hurting. I would clench my teeth for my Croatia. I’ve done this a lot of times, but this time, I didn’t have to risk it.”

The Croat also expressed his love for cooking and his wife’s favorite Croatian treat. 

“I like to cook, and I prepare both Croatian and Spanish specialities well, ha, ha. But there is one thing my Raquel literally worships, something we always have to have in the refrigerator – our Slavonian kulen! That is a real delicacy for Raquel. When I’m in Croatia, I must bring at least one or two of them back with me. When I come home, she can already smell the scent of the kulen from my luggage. I always have to bring it.”

And will the Croat open a restaurant again as he did in Seville?

“For now, no. I just have too many obligations. In Seville, it was easier for me. But never say never. Maybe one day I will open a restaurant in Barcelona.”


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