The Croatian Football Federation has secured another young promising diaspora talent from Germany.
18-year-old German youth international Jakov Šuver has decided to represent Croatia and will make his debut for Croatia U-19 on Wednesday in the qualifying tournament for the European Championships.
Croatia coach Josip Šimunić has named German-born centre-back Šuver in his squad for matches against in Karlovac against Gibraltar, Armenia and Scotland from 10-16 November.
When Šuver, who played 18 times for Germany at various youth levels, turned 18 on January 22, he signed a four-year contract with Stuttgart. His last International was back in September when he played in Germany U-19’s 1-0 win over Switzerland.
“I always thought of playing for Croatia, now I have finally decided to do it, to wear the Croatian shirt,” Šuver told Sportske Novosti in his first interview with Croatian media.
It is often said that young Croats in the diaspora are directed by their parents to choose to play for Croatia, but that was not the case for Šuver.
“My parents never put any pressure on me. I always had the freedom to make my own decisions, so it was with the choice to play for Croatia. My parents are from the village of Donji Kladari near Modriča, but they have lived in Stuttgart since 1993,” he said.
Danijel Lučić, the Croatian Football Federation’s key man for Germany who has been volunteering for years to connect footballers with Croatian heritage and their parents, directing them towards the “checkered” shirt, and the federation’s junior secretary Josip Tomaško have been ‘working’ on Šuver for a while.
“I told him several times: “Jakov, look where your heart is beating, you have a place with us,” Lučić told Sportske Novosti, whilst Tomaško added.
“Since he played official matches for Germany we had to get FIFA approval. We first sent a request to the DFB to provide us with a paper showing all the matches he played for them, which is one of the FIFA conditions. They weren’t in a hurry, I can understand them. But when we had to send the complete documentation to Zurich, a problem arose. His Croatian passport expired, and he did not take out a new one. We expressly arranged for him to fly to Zagreb by plane, a car was waiting for him at the airport, we brought him directly to the Ministry of the Interior in Petrinjska to the office where his passport was made in fifteen minutes. He was impressed by the action, which took place in early October. On the same day, we sent everything to FIFA, which solved the case very quickly, and Jakov will make his debut for Croatia this month.”
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Lučić says securing Šuver is a ‘huge thing’ for the Croatian national team.
“It will only resonate in the German media now that he is starting to play in the qualifiers. They will wonder how a player who has worn the ‘Elf’ jersey for five years can go to Croatia. They wrote about Stanišić, who was even less in the German national team program, what will they say about Šuver?”
Šuver will be playing under Šimunić, also a diaspora defender who spent most of his career playing in Germany.
“I remember him very well. I watched him on television when he played for Hertha and Hoffenheim, and of course for the Croatian national team. Every stopper can learn a lot from him because he had a very good technique and was a very intelligent player. We have a great relationship and very positive communication,” Šuver said.
Šuver is not the only diaspora talent from Germany in Šimunić’s side. The former international has also included Franjo Ivanović from Augsburg, Gabrijel Vidović from Bayern and Noah Phil Pesch from Bayer Leverkusen.