It is not often that a brother and sister will represent their country in the same sport, but that is what the Petra and Filip Benković have done.
Petra (18) and brother Filip (20) are both Croatian football internationals. Petra represents Croatia at U-19 level whilst Filip is in the U-21 side.
A first-team regular at Dinamo Zagreb, Filip has already caught the attention of some big European clubs, including Juventus, Inter and Manchester United. The tall defender potentially could be the club’s most expensive transfer when he is inevitably sold.
Branko Stipković sat down with the siblings for a chat for HNS.
When were you born?
Petra: 17 March 1999
Filip: 13 July 1997
Where do you live?
Petra: For a long time we were in the suburb of Ravnice (Zagreb), now we live around Dubrava.
Filip: By car, it takes us 10 minutes to get to Maksimir stadium.
How is school going?
Petra: I just finished trade school (secondary).
Filip: I finished economics.
How long have you been playing football?
Petra: Not that long, 7-8 months. Filip was the reason I got into it, he spoke so fondly about the sport. Before I played basketball for seven years for Croatija Dubrava.
Filip: I arrived at Maksimir as a 6-year-old. I made my debut for the senior team when Zoran Mamić was the coach. It’s excellent now with Mario Cvitanović (current coach).
What positions do you play?
Petra: I am a striker, my role is to score goals. I am not sure I could dribble around my brother, maybe, if he didn’t foul me too harshly!
Filip: I also started off as an attacker, and then I became a defender, left or right centre back it’s the same. We are both stronger on our right foots.
Are things going well this season with your clubs?
Petra: ŽNK Dinamo is led by Mario Mišljenović and Marija-Margareta Damjanović. We are at the top of the 2. ŽHNL, which has 12 teams in it. Next season we will probably be in the 1.ŽHNL. We train 3-4 times a week. I put in a lot of effort and have scored a number of goals this season. Women’s football is progressing, it is developing a lot all over the world.
Filip: We have gone 12 points clear of Hajduk and 14 points clear of Osijek, whilst Rijeka are 15 points behind us. We can not let up, and in the spring we must be just as serious so we can claim the title and the cup without stress.
Which ground is always the most ‘firey’ to play at?
Petra: The atmosphere at Lepoglava is always ‘hot’. At Široki Brijeg it is not that much more comfortable.
Filip: Always Poljud (Hajduk). I like those kinds of challenges, it is always that extra motivation.
How are you with the national team coaches?
Petra: I recently made my debut for Croatia U-19 led by Hrvoje Matijević. I played a friendly against Scotland, I was at the Euro qualifying tournament in Bad Waltersdorf where we lost to Austria and Belgium and beat Macedonia.
Filip: I played for Croatia U-17 and U-19 and now play for the U-21s. I think coach Nenad Gračan is satisfied and that we will qualify for the European Championships in Italy and San Marino, although we can not underestimate Czech Republic, Greece, Belarus, and Moldova. I am just sorry I did not achieve more with this generation of amazing talent we had with Ante Ćorić, Nikola Vlašić, Andrija Balić, Bojan Knežević, Fran Brodić, Kristijan Jakić, Karlo Letica…
How do you think Croatia go at the World Cup in Russia?
Petra: I am hoping for the best, we have to advance out of the group!
Filip: The first game will be very important. If we beat Nigeria in Kaliningrad, it will all be a lot easier. Then we can play openly against Argentina and attack Iceland.
Who are your role models?
Petra: Zlatan Ibrahimović. I like tall, strong centre-forwards. I have grown to my maximum of 180 cm.
Filip: And I am 194 cm. I know they compare me to Sergio Ramos, but I like Thiago Silva more.
Who is the best Croatian player?
Petra: Luka Modrić. For technical skills and reading the game, he is class.
Filip: Luka Modrić. The best in the country, continent, and the world!
Was 2017 a good year?
Petra: I have no complaints. I am glad because of the progress Filip has made, I believe he will have a successful future.
Filip: It is a shame Rijeka caused us problems. I scored four important goals, and I was out for a while with an injury, but everything is now fine and I am optimistic.
Which new club would be best for Filip?
Petra: It is not important, I’m convinced he would good anywhere.
Filip: I think the English style suits me. The language as well. But I am not ruling out any transfer combination. I will act as if I will be at Dinamo another 10 seasons and then after that maybe China and Romania!
What are your plans for New Years?
Petra: At home is the best.
Filip: I will also be in Zagreb.
Have you checked out Advent in town?
Petra: I have a few times. The big crowds bother me a bit.
Filip: It is nice. I like going to Dinamo’s stand.
What hobbies do you have?
Petra: I like to draw. Portraits, landscapes, and so-called ‘dead nature’. I have no idea where it came from. Recently I started to learn to play the guitar.
Filip: Always has been films and biking, and now tennis and padel.
Petra: I have a boyfriend, his name is Anto.
Filip: I do not have a girlfriend at the moment.
(Interview: Branko Stipković for Croatian Football Federation)