The President of NK Osijek sets his eyes on Italy.
Ivan Meštrović, the President of the Management Board and one of the owners of NK Osijek, has decided to take over the Italian third-league squad Santarcangelo, reports Index.hr and Goal.hr on December 15, 2017.
“Osijek is my great love, and this will be my lover. The formal club owner should be known in two weeks. It is a team from Serie C which has three divisions of 20 clubs. It is just the beginning because I plan to join this club with Rimini who plays in Serie D. It is a city with 150,000 inhabitants, 1200 hotels and 15 million overnights a year. The Emilia-Romagna region is looking for football, and that’s a big challenge for me,” said Osijek’s leading man, Meštrović.
The acquisition of the Italian club will be directly linked to Osijek.
“We all know what the Italian football market is. The games of the lower league are a great showcase for the players, and I’m sure this will be a great opportunity for some of our first league players. We will lend some players to Santarcangelo this winter to help them place in Serie B,” Meštrović added.
“I will go to Italy soon. The Italian football market is the strongest in Europe, and I think it’s a great move,” concluded the Osijek president, although he did not reveal how he intends to lead this club from another country.
Santarcangelo is currently the 17th-placed team in Serie C, and the club has faced their fair share of financial problems this year. Santarcangelo could very well drop to the fourth Italian league by the end of the season.
Interestingly, the colors of this Italian third-league side are also defended by David Žabec, a Croatian footballer (born in 1996) who grew up in the youth ranks with Alen Halilović and Ivan Fiolić. David Žabec arrived at Santarcangelo via the Croatian club Novigrad and gave his thoughts about the acquisition.
“Frankly, the club has talked about finding a new owner for a while, and of course I’m glad that Santarcangelo has been taken over by a man from Croatia. I know the whole story about Osijek, I’m aware that he is a serious man, and I believe Santarcangelo will get much better very soon,” Žabec said, and continued:
“It was rumored that the new owner was at our last game, but we did not see or meet him. The club was talking about a new owner for a long time, but none of us knew exactly what was happening. I was surprised when I learned that Santarcangelo would be taken over by a Croat.
“Everything was so-so with the club, and then they fell short on finances again. Although, they are not as late as they are in Croatia. The new owners announced that we would be paid two wages in the next five days, and we were all pretty suspicious of it, but then we were really paid back during that period.”
And when asked about the goals of Santarcangelo?
“First of all, we all want to stay in the third league. I believe that with smaller investments we can stay in the league and, in the future, have a cooperation with Osijek as Rijeka had with Spezia. This is a quiet town; it’s really a pleasure to live here. And now we are all full of optimism, we believe that there is a serious story behind this project,” Žabec concluded.