Sad Truth About Istra 1961: “Glover Will Not Show His Face in Pula Again”

Daniela Rogulj

Is there a new owner in sight? Have the players been paid? The Istra 1961 captain speaks. 

“We are crawling on the go, and surprisingly we have put together a good team. There are several returnees like Roce and Iveša, from Lokomotiva we borrowed Jakić and Antunović, and we have two foreigners Bady and Matei,” said Aljoša Vojnović, the captain and leader of the new Istria 1961 on on February 21, 2018. 

Vojnović, who is not just a player but the right hand of coach Darko Raić-Sudar, brought two significant boosts to the club he knew as acquaintances. 

“I played at Dinamo Bucharest with Matei, and he is a great friend of mine. The coach mentioned that agents were being offered to us. He played for the Turkish team Gencerbirligi where he had a great salary. We heard he was not playing there much, though I thought my shot was empty. He had never even heard of the club, and I called him! I told him that Pula was a town on the sea, that this was a nice place to be and that it would be better here than to sit on the bench in Turkey. He said he had to talk to someone first and then called me an hour later and said he was coming! He liked everything I said about Pula, it was strange that he accepted it all so fast,” Vojnović revealed about the new transfer.

“Nikola Matas had just left Osijek, and I was persuading him for a long time. He did not know what to say, and I told him it was better to come here and play for six months because he needed it. I’m sorry he did not come sooner.”

Tomislav Čuljak, who arrived in Istria last summer from Cibalia, also participated in the club’s rescuing. 

“He called Ivan Zgrablić and Andre Ottochiana who came in. So we were left without fifteen players, and people watched it unfold, they offered us all the players below the first level. Great credit goes to the Operational Director Darko Podnar and the coach Darko Raić-Sudar, who stayed through it all. He held it together, fought every day, and even brought dirty laundry to wash at the club!”

Aljoša Vojnović is the only player in the Croatian First League who has no right to play against the club from which he has been leased – he is on the payroll of NK Osijek, after all. 

“For me it is different, but here some players have not been paid for eight months. Čuljak came in August and had not received one pay yet! That will never work, and we could not leave the club because we would have been third in the same season and then we would not have the right to play.”

Unlike the other nine league rivals who were buried in winter preparations, Istria only began with preparations in early February.

“We were the last to start; we’re late. We’ve been working for three weeks, and we’ve been working harder and faster. So far, this hasn’t been a big problem, as you play difficult games in preparation too. These are the toughest for us, and we use them for further preparation. In Rijeka, we went to play a conscious game, and it was more like we were trying to fill the lungs. Against Lokomotiva we were already better.”

“The money is hardly collected for rent. We are pushing one another. During preparations we tried to negotiate with the club to give the players somewhere they could eat twice a day. Nothing too expensive, and a way to help with the rent. The club tried to give it as much as it could. The problem is that sponsors cannot give money to a private club account, and people who could help couldn’t send money to a blocked account,” continued Aljoša.

In December, rumors emerged that Dinamo’s Adrian Ademi gathered money from his Zagreb teammates as a donation for the Istria players. 

“After the last round of the winter season, a symbolic donation was sent, and all those who were left divided the money. Those 12 to 13 players got around 2000-3000 kuna.”

Although he has been in Pula since the summer, Istria’s owner Michael Glover has yet to be seen.

“He would not dare to show his face to the fans. They would be looking for him everywhere in the city. He would not show his face here anymore.” 

Translated from

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