Subašić Opens Up After Croatia Retirement: “My Dream is to Say Farewell at Poljud”

Daniela Rogulj

Only when a 70-year-old man kisses your hands, when you see tears in the eyes of parents, then you realize what you have done. 

“Before the World Cup I decided that it was the end, it was time to give my place to someone younger, and the final is just a bonus that made this end more beautiful. We all know what we’ve been through to get the silver and it just gives a special frame to this whole story,” said Danijel Subašić after retiring his Croatia jersey to on August 17, 2018. 

Now it is time for Suba’s longtime teammate on Hajduk and the national team, Lovre Kalinić, to take over. 

Suba made the decision to retire long before the World Cup, but he took a little time to think about it again.

“My decision has nothing to do with the decisions of Ćorluka and Mandžukić. If they stayed, I would have retired anyway. It just happened that we announced our retirement one after the other. My closest acquaintances knew this was the end, especially my Antonija. After Russia and all those fantastic welcoming parties, we went out on a little boat to enjoy the Kornati, and I thought about it hard once again and concluded that I made the right decision. I gave everything I could, and it’s time for the youth. I’ve been on the team for a long time, I came in through a small door, and now, I am going out through a big one. It was everything, some nice and not so nice moments, and I don’t regret anything – and Russia is a reward for all the resignation, training, travel, playing under medications and injections, injuries…”

He did not think too much about choosing his favorite and worst match for the national team.

“My favorites are against Denmark and England in Russia, especially against Denmark, where we all had a lump in our chest and our legs felt shackled with concrete blocks. When we advanced, everything opened up. The worst is definitely the game against Portugal at the Euros and the empty stands we had to endure at one point for home games. I would not wish that on anyone.”

The most emotional moment of the World Cup is also tied to Denmark.

“I went to Luka, because I knew the penalties I saved removed a huge burden off his back. I hugged him and picked him up, carried him on the field, and told him that this was for him, because I know best what he has been through, where we both started and where we have come. He missed the first penalty, and nearly the other, but he had the balls to take the ball and shoot, and it is difficult for anyone in his place to dare such a thing. That is the ‘Zadar kids’.” 

Lovre Kalinić was one of the first people Suba told of his decision to retire. 

“I’ve known Kale for a long time, still from Hajduk, and I know what he is going through and that he is ready for what awaits him. I sent him an SMS, I wrote: ‘From today, I become your biggest fan and support. I’m sure of your abilities.’ The same goes for Livaković, Letica, Posavac… Anyone who comes up in line will not be afraid. I am glad that Kale will also realize his dreams and defend at the Euros.”

Suba said he hasn’t watched the World Cup final against France, and that he never will. 

“I saw it live, why would I watch it on a television? Maybe once I’ll take a look, but I do not think I’m going to change my mind about how we played a great game and lost because we did not have the luck. In some of the previous games we were lucky, but in the final there was no luck and that is that, that is football. Such a penalty would have never been played for us, the first goal was from the offside position and then everything changed, the match went downhill… You get the third, and as if you never saw it coming, the fourth comes in. Unlucky, I do not like to go back to that game.”

Allegedly, there is an initiative to organize a special farewell match for Subašić, Mandžukić and Ćorluka.

“I have nothing against it. Here, I have a suggestion. My dream is to say farewell at Poljud, that in the 23rd minute I go to the dressing room and mark this beautiful story. Well, that would be the most beautiful possible farewell for me.”

With regard to the relationship between Dalmatia and HNS, who knows if it will be fulfilled…

But maybe if Suba returned to play in the Hajduk jersey?

“No, I do not want that. Everyone knows what Hajduk means to me, but I would never go back and take the place of a young goalkeeper at the start of his career. That would be wrong. There is still a lot of good football in front of me. If I get through the injury I will still be defending for a long time. Now, I will have a little more time for rest and recover from an injury that usually takes you out of the rhythm for 10-15 days, and then there is no break, so you play hurt, with tablets and injections, it torments you… That’s why I’m still on holiday, in seven days I am back in Monaco, I’ll train lightly and rehabilitate the injury, and when I’m ready in two or three weeks, I’ll be back in the goal.”

Suba is not even thinking about leaving Monaco, especially since he bought an apartment, which was not a small investment.

“I’m not as rich as the others, Ha, ha, ha … If I was younger, then I might have thought about a transfer, a richer environment, but now I’m already up there in age, I’m not burdened with so much, and I have another two years of my contract so we’ll see. I feel at home in Monaco, and that is important.”

During the World Cup, Suba promised to reveal a secret of where he had disappeared to shortly before the penalties against Denmark, and then against Russia.

“Well, I just had to go pee, and then, because it all went well, I went against Russia too. Just in case. What can you do, after one game went well, I didn’t want to change the routine… Ha, ha, ha!”

Subašić was sympathetic to all fans of Croatia.

“I do not know what to say about all of those welcoming parties, about the emotions of people who waited patiently for hours to see us greet them. And it’s easy for those teenagers, you expect it from them, but when you see a 70-year-old waiting all those hours and they kiss your hands, when you see parents with tears in their eyes, you become aware of what it meant to people.”

A special place in Russia was given to Zlatko Dalić, without whom none of this would be possible.

“He took on the role of the leader, he knew exactly what he wanted from the first day and he transmitted it to us. He was honest, open and straightforward. In difficult moments he was calm, he always said that we were better, that we would pass, he gave us that confidence. Immediately after Nigeria I told him that I realized my dreams, that I defended at the World Cup and won and now I can sit on the bench or go home. He responded coldly: ‘I’m just relaxed now, because I see we are ready for great things’. And so it was in the end.”

And where does Subašić keep his silver medal and memories from the World Cup?

“The medal is with me in Monaco, I wear it wherever I go, and I keep it under my pillow, ha, ha, ha… I’m kidding, it’s right beside me. The jersey and gloves go in a frame on the wall, just like the one from the final, as well as against Denmark and Russia. On the wall already is the jersey and gloves against Spain, when I saved a penalty from Ramos, and those from the Champions League with Monaco, Europa League with Hajduk … Thank God, I have a lot of memories.”


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