Former Croatia international Niko Kranjčar was presented on Monday in Zagreb as the ambassador of the UEFA Under-17 Championship which will be held in Croatia in May 2017.
From 3 – 19 May Croatia will host the best Under-17 teams in Europe, and today the Croatian Football Federation revealed their programme at a press conference in the capital, including introducing the former Spurs star.
“It is nice to be here, I feel good. The recovery from injury is going to plan. My memories playing for Croatia through the age groups are beautiful. I won bronze with the U-16 Croatia team in 2001 and naturally I accepted the call from HNS for this role. It was nice to play for Croatia youth teams and it is an honour and my pleasure to be the football Ambassador for this competition”, said Kranjčar, who played 81 times for Croatia scoring 16 goals.
“We are very happy that Kranjčar accepted the ambassador role, he was our first, and ideal choice considering he won bronze at the UEFA U-16 European Championships, has represented Croatia at senior level and scored many times, and is still an active player,” HNS spokesperson Tomislav Pacak said.
Croatia, who will be coached Dario Bašić, is looking forward to the event.
“We are looking to play three quality matches at the European Championships in the group stage and qualify for the second round, and then anything is possible. Currently in Europe the English, Portuguese, French, Spanish and Germans are the strongest. Maybe the English are a step ahead of the rest this year”, Bašić said.
Matches in the tournament will be played in Rijeka, Kostrena, Zaprešić, Lučko, Velika Gorica, Sesvete and Varaždin. Eurosport will show at least 15 matches. The draw and schedule will be made on 3 April 2017 in Zagreb.
Croatia will play the opening match of the championships in Rijeka with the final in Varaždin.
For all information about the tournament a special website has been launched – Croatia2017.hr.
“Preparations have been going on for two years. A large organising team is working on this project. The aim is to promote sport among youth and the culture of supporting in sport, as well as promoting Croatia as a tourist destination”, Pacak said.
Musician Eni Jurišić, author of the tournament song “Kao jedno”, will be the music ambassador for the tournament.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity. I love football, I love to sit around with friends and watch a game”, she said, adding that the song will come out this week.