19-year-old Bayern Munich talent Fabian Benko has pledged his allegiance to Croatia ahead of his birth country Germany.
Born in Munich to Croatian parents, Benko joined Bayern Munich in 2005 when he was just seven years old and last summer made his senior debut for the club coming on for Arturo Vidal in Bayern’s 5–0 win over Carl Zeiss Jena in the German Cup.
The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) had been negotiating to get Benko to commit to Croatia for the future for more than a year now.
Croatia U-21 coach Nenad Gračan and secretary Josip Tomaško have just been in Munich meeting with Fabian’s parents.
“Fabian Benko has shown he wants to play for Croatia, his parents have also, so I hope now that it is all over and it will happen,” Gračan told Sportski novosti after returning from Munich.
Benko was due to join up with the Croatian U-21 squad last year ahead of their Euro qualifier against Sweden, but he unexpectedly withdrew.
“Fabian’s debut for Croatia has been postponed. Fabian’s manager Christian Nerlinger advised us to do that. Since my son has represented Germany, if he was to now play for Croatia, he could not change national teams again,” Fabian’s father told Sportske novosti at the time.
Gračan had the chance to see Benko in action recently for Bayern Munich’s second team, and after he sat down with the player and his family.
“After the match, we sat down with Fabian and his parents. Discussions were open and I said we were very interested in having Fabian play for Croatia. His family is from Sveti Martin na Muri and they moved to Germany in the 1990s. I am sorry he is not already in our system considering his talent and the generation of players who he would play with, like Brekalo, Moro…”, Gračan said, adding that Benko will be invited to 3-day camp to acclimatise and adjust to the Croatian set up and players.