Almost 15 years ago, Mark Viduka and Željko Kalac were wearing the green and gold of Australia as they drew 2-2 with Croatia to knock them out of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
This week the pair were together again in the Croatian capital Zagreb, and just like that June night back in Stuttgart, it wasn’t without drama.
Kalac, nicknamed Spider, was head goal keeper coach at Xanthi F.C. in Greece but this month was released by the club. Before returning home to Australia, the 2.02 metre-tall stopper has decided to spend some time in Croatia, where he has roots.
“I’ve had quite an adventurous couple of weeks,” Kalac revealed on his podcast, Shim, Spider & so much Moore before continuing.
“I am in Croatia now but if I tell you the stories of the way I got here. I had to get to the border in Serbia and Croatia and the guy who drove me couldn’t go through because he didn’t have a COVID test, then I had to walk like a refugee between the two borders. I had to walk through with my bags. Then my cousin didn’t pick me up at the right border on the other side, so I had to wait for him,” he explained.
With travel back to Australia difficult with the pandemic situation, Kalac says that he will stay in Croatia for the moment.
“It is a good opportunity for me to have a look around what is happening here in Croatia. There is a lot of football happening so I will use the time for education and see what is next in store,” he said.
Kalac this week caught up with his good mate and former teammate Viduka in Zagreb where the former Melbourne Knights, Dinamo Zagreb, Celtic, Leeds, Middlesborough and Newcastle striker lives and runs a cafe.
Flat white please barista – and a splint for my crooked thumb if you have one? The big arachnid dropped in to another @GGener8tion legend’s coffee shop in Croatia today 😉⚽️ 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/qZGaksP8eO— Shim, Spider & so much Moore.. (@ShimMuch) February 25, 2021
Kalac says that he is still not sure why Xanthi F.C let him go but says that in football when one door closes and another one opens.
Kalac, who is the tallest player to have played for Australia, had an impressive career in Europe, playing for Leicester City, Roda JC and AC Milan among other clubs.
He played for Australia 54 times over 14 years and was in goal that night against Croatia in 2006 at the World Cup.
You can check out the podcast here.