He has won over 100 caps for Croatia after making his international debut in 2001, being one of the Croatia’s standout players over the last decade. Big centre back Joe Šimunić talks to Croatia Week about his most memorable matches for Croatia, who the hardest player he has ever marked was, and who are the dressing room characters.
Joe, you have donned the red and white checkers of Croatia 103 times, does any one match stand out? When you go back on all the games, on all the ups and downs, and you draw a line, there are more positive things and games that stand out. I’d have to say my first game was probably the one that meant to me the most, then I would have to say against England at Wembley in 2007 when we won 3:2 and knocked England out of the EUROS, and the game against Germany in 2008 in Klagenfurt.
Who was your favourite player growing up? Diego Maradona and Fernando Redondo
Favourite club as a kid? AC Milan
Hardest player you have ever marked? Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Joe goes head to head with Zlatan in Zagreb
Do you have any pre-match rituals? I had a few when I was younger but don’t have any now
Do you get nervous before a match? I actually have to admit now when we played in Belgrade against Serbia I was for some reason very nervous before the game. When I was younger I used to get more nervous more often but now just every once in a while, which is a good thing.
Favourite ground you have played on? Borussia Dortmund’s Stadium and Berlin – Olympic stadium where I used to play every second weekend
Borussia Dortmund’s Stadium
Favourite Food? I have to answer this politically correct, I’d have to say my Mother’s cooking, and then my future wife’s cooking.
Favourite Drink? Red Wine
You have lived in a few cities, which is your favourite? In Australia I’d have to say Canberra, because I was born and bred there. In Europe I would have to say Berlin and Zagreb.
How do you relax away from football in Zagreb? Go to the movies, cafes for coffee, I try to also when I can go and play golf but that has been rare in the last year and a half.
Favourite beach in Croatia? I have seen a lot of beaches but I need to see a few more. I think anywhere you go on the Croatian coast is breathtaking.
Favourite restaurant in Zagreb? Restaurant Carpaccio
Who are the funniest men in the dressing room? Duje Čop at Dinamo Zagreb, he is a character. For Croatia I’d have to say Mario Manđžukić and Nikica Jelavić
Dressing room pranksters Nikica Jelavic and Mario Mandzukic
How do you want the fans to remember you as a player when you retire? I would like most people to see I have always given my best, I respected everyone and believed in what I did.