If there is one thing all Croatians would agree on that makes them proud of their country, it’s the status of sports and achievements made in sports by many notable athletes.
Croatians were always considered as a football (as in soccer op.a) nation which is not strange at all since in 1998. Croatia won the 3rd place in World Football Cup which is a big thing for such a small country. In years after the Cup, numerous Croatian football players proved that there is something in our genes that makes us excellent players in the most elite clubs in the world. Just take Luka Modrić and Mateo Kovačić as more than notable players in FC Real Madrid or Ivan Rakitić as an aspiring star of FC Barcelona. Mario Mandžukić is also one of the most popular players among European clubs where he paved his way from Atletico Madrid, from Bayern Munchen to Juventus where he plays today. Besides them, all football fans would agree that it would be a crime not to mention Croatia’s top players such as Zvonimir Boban, Vedran Ćorluka, Ivica Olić, Dejan Lovren and, of course, maybe the most golden of them all- Davor Šuker, who holds the position of the president of the Croatian Football Association.
How much football is important to all the Croatian people can be illustrated in the best way by simply walking around any town during an important match, especially during Euro Cup or World Cup.
You’d me amazed how much-checkered pattern you’ll see everywhere (and if you wonder why check out here!) and how passionately Croatians cheer their national team.
Another team Croatia is cheering for with the same passion is the Handball national team which won two Olympic gold medals and the World Cup and is one of the strongest handball teams to this day.
Water polo is considered almost a sport you play while growing up on the Adriatic coast, so it’s no wonder Croatia has given a powerful national team for years and even won a gold Olympic medal!
Besides team sports, Croatia has world-famous athletes in almost every sport you’ve laid your eyes on.
In tennis, we can’t mention 2001. Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanišević and 2014. US Open winner Marin Čilić.
The athlete that brought Croatia many prizes and popularized skiing in a country that barely had any skiing tradition is Janica Kostelić, a three times World Cup champion and the winner of four Gold Olympic medals, but also her brother Ivica Kostelić made a huge contribution to the skiing scene by winning two Silver Olympic medals.
A groundbreaking name in the field of martial arts is the one of Mirko Filipović a.k.a. Cro Cop who made an incredible career on the MMA scene by winning Pride Fc Grand Prix Championship and holds the title of the last K-1 Grand Prix Champion. His name is a well-known term in Japan where he fought numerous times and made a solid connection with people there.
In athletics, a must-mention is Blanka Vlašić, a child prodigy trained by her father (just like Janica and Ivica Kostelić!) who won several Olympic medals and World Cups in high-jump and is still active in making new world-records.
So what is it in the Croatian air that makes so many successful sportspeople keep surprising the world in their talent, hard work, devotion, and passion?
C for yourself and visit Croatia!