Home » Sport » 5 life lessons the Croatian football team taught us

5 life lessons the Croatian football team taught us

by Lana V.

Although being a Croatian and being born and raised in a football-mad country, I was never really a fan until four years ago when World Cup fever gripped me, as it did the rest of the country, when we won the silver medal.

Once again this year the same euphoria started to build and by the time we had reached the knockout phase I knew all the players’ names and nicknames off by heart. As Croatia continued to advance, and test my heart with nerves with back-to-back penalty shootouts, just like in Russia four years ago, I was gripped.

Even though we lost the semifinal against Argentina, the team has left Croatians feeling extremely proud as they lifted themselves back up to beat Morocco on Saturday to win the bronze medal.

I think we all learned something from Zlatko Dalić, Luka Modrić, Joško Gvardiol, Dominik Livaković, Ivan Perišić and the whole Croatian team.

We are not prisoners of bad news

We are so used to bad news in Croatia, about the economy, unemployment, people leaving the country etc. Croats are people who know their limits, maybe too well. Maybe so well that after years they became self-imposed. This team taught us, like the one in 2018, that we are not prisoners of bad news and that with effort, hard work, practice and knowledge we can beat the odds and go beyond our limits. Dreams are possible.

Being humble

It was incredible for me to observe this team, which again was the smallest nation in the last four at the World Cup, and by a long way, that they never lost their humbleness and never underestimated their opponents (which could not be said for other teams).

One person especially stuck out and that was coach Dalić. His incredible sense of measure and sportsmanship even in most euphoric situations after major wins – always congratulating the opponents, never underestimating the next opponent, putting the team first when it comes to results. What an incredible man!

Also Luka Modrić, who has achieved almost everything there is in football, always has his feet on the ground and he was the first to console the Brazilians when Croatia knocked them out in the quarterfinals. Just a few hours later the Argentinians were mocking the Dutch when they sent them home after winning the penalty shootout. Also the humbleness from the players, especially Dominik Livaković and Joško Gvardiol, when interviewed was so refreshing to see.

Never giving up

This team has taught everyone in the country a lesson in not giving up. No matter what your thing is, the boys showed that if you believe in yourself and don’t give up things are possible. We were losing against Canada, Japan and against 5-time world champions Brazil, but our heads didn’t go down and we didn’t give up but we fought till the end.

Against Brazil we were all but out when Neymar scored in extra-time. But the never give up attitude from the guys saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A truly incredible and inspiring performance to show it is not over until it is over.

“Nije u šoldima sve” (Money is not everything)

Mladen Grdovic’s hit “Nije u šoldima sve” (Money is not everything), which was adopted by the players and sung after victories by the team in 2018, was the first song the team sung when they got back into the dressing room yesterday after winning bronze.

We are so thirsty for money because we always lack it. We barely make ends meet and look at every possible way to save. Therefore, we tend to think that if we had money that would make us happy. Even though sometimes it seems odd that players who make millions are singing the famous Grdović tune, the guys have shown motivation that goes far far beyond printed paper such as family, friendship, loyalty, sticking together when it gets tough etc.

Family is the hashtag the Croatian football federation uses and is a key value it drills home and when the players’ kids joined the celebrations on the pitch yesterday this strong value was evident for the world to see.

We are all the same, even far away from Croatia

Sometimes we feel so alone. We are a small economy, our bureaucracy repeals foreign businesses. We feel alone even in Croatia, divided by the left and right and pro and against and class and income. It is true, people do manage to gather to oppose something or someone but rarely we feel united in a positive way. And that’s exactly what it was seeing all people united in unprecedented happens and joy.

We have friends everywhere

The messages that have come in for Croatia from around the world are amazing. The amount of hearts this team won in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, Pacific, is amazing. It felt like the world was behind us again. A lot of people admired the way we played and fought and represented our country in Qatar, just like we did four years earlier, and that makes us proud.

Bravo, Vatreni, thanks for the lessons.

Sign up to receive the Croatia Week Newsletter

Related Posts