Strip Club–Pole Work Edition
I admit I was strangely gutted when Croatia lost to Germany in the quarterfinals of Euro 96 despite knowing almost nothing about them, but when I first saw the Croatia jersey, I was instantly intrigued, because they looked like the Big Boy outfit down the street. So I started following the team and through them found a basketball hero in Toni Kukoc. For this post I racked my brain and checked out the interwebs for more info, including the Croatian National Team Wikipedia entry.
On September 4th, 1994, Croatia kicked off against Estonia and started an amazing four year run in international football. The Blazers qualified for Euro 96 by winning their group, only losing one match and managing a draw and victory against 1994 World Cup Runners-Up Italy. At the Finals, they finished second in their section to Portugal (watch Suker’s goal against Denmark starts at 3:30) and qualified for the knockout stage, where they lost to Germany despite a sick goal by Suker.
Two years on, they took the world by storm as they made it all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup, which included a 3-0 demolition of Germany, before they fell to two unlikely goals from Lillian Thuram of the host country France. They responded by defeating Holland in the third place game to complete a journey from non-existence to the heights of international competition, with Suker winning the Golden Boot for the tournament (all goals here). However, things didn’t go as well for the next decade as Suker, Boban, Prosinečki and Bilic retired, and the next generation couldn’t match their achievements.
The summer after Euro 96, I was at my local soccer shop and came across the Croatian jersey. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately took the shirt up to the counter and swiped my credit card. The jersey is one of the few I have that is made by Lotto, but it is lightweight and great to play in.
Of course I get mocked due to the large checked pattern (either something about Big Boy or wearing a picnic blanket) but that’s because people don’t get it.
Croatia continue to produce quality players (Modric, Rakitić, and Srna, with Kovačić as a possible up and comer) and I enjoy watching them. I pull for them in any tournament to do well, due to their ability and killer uniforms, so here’s hoping that they qualify for World Cup 2014 and beyond.
Special thanks for Kire Football Kits for the graphic reproduction of the kits.