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South African-Born Crystal Palace Defender Pledges Allegiance to Croatia

Nikola Tavares

South African-born defender Nikola Tavares, who signed a professional contract with English Premier League side Crystal Palace last month, is the latest player from the diaspora to pledge his allegiance to Croatia.

The technically-gifted 18-year-old was born in the South African port city of Cape Town to a Portuguese father and a Croatian mother.

Four years ago his family moved to England to further his footballing career and it has paid off. Tavares, who trained at Wolverhampton, Middlesbrough and Brentford, was signed by Sam Allardyce’s side in February.

Very proud to have signed my first professional contract at Crystal Palace F.C ?? Big thanks to God, family and friends who helped me along the way ❣

A post shared by Niki ?????? (@nikolatavares) on

Nikola signing for Crystal Palace above with his family.

Travers has multiple options when it comes to international football, but he has selected Croatia and last month he made his debut when he was selected to play for the Croatia U-18 side.

International Debut ????

A post shared by Niki ?????? (@nikolatavares) on

“He was always a very tall boy, even at Under-13 level. But aside from that he also had great ability and with the physique to master the position, it is a great combination. He is a very intelligent kid who has done exceptionally well and benefitted tremendously from the decision of his father, as an EU passport holder, to move to England and get him into quality youth development structures. We are very excited for him and I firmly believe he can go on to play for Crystal Palace in the Premier League or the Championship, wherever they end up”, Palace Technical Director Mark Byrne said about Tavares.

A post shared by Niki ?????? (@nikolatavares) on

It’s a bit different ?

A post shared by Niki ?????? (@nikolatavares) on

Nikola’s brother, Marco, who is a goalkeeper, is also said to be an exciting prospect with a big future ahead of him.

(photo: Nikola Tavares/Instagram)

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