ZAGREB, 17 May 2021 – Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić announced his preliminary squad of 26 for the upcoming Euro 2020 at a press conference in Zagreb on Monday, as well as presenting his new assistant coach for the first time, former international defender Vedran Ćorluka.
With former assistant coach Ivica Olić taking up the head coach job at CSKA Moscow, Dalić has turned to former central defender Ćorluka to be his assistant.
Ćorluka, who has retired after playing his last game for Lokomotiv on Sunday, was presented as a new member of the professional staff of the ‘Vatreni’.
“This last week has been very emotional for me, I won the Russian Cup, and yesterday I played my last game for Lokomotiv and ended my playing career. I admit, it was hard for me, I experienced it all emotionally, but today is already easier, I look to the future. Two months ago, I received an invitation from coach Dalić, who mentioned the idea of joining his staff, because I was already thinking about the end of my career. We agreed very quickly, I am honoured that the coach gave me an opportunity that I accepted after talking to former teammates. I hope to be of help. In the future, I see myself as a coach, I plan to enrol in the HNS Academy, that is the path I want to take,” said Ćorluka, who also briefly commented on his playing career.
“At one point you realise that it’s over, the moment happens when you make a decision with yourself. It’s not that I wasn’t motivated anymore or that I didn’t enjoy football anymore, in fact, I enjoyed it yesterday too, but I realised it was time to go home, find myself in a new role and in some new joys of life. Career rating? I will not regret the missed opportunities, and for my career I give myself a score of 10 out of 10.”
Dalić says that he expects his new assistant to be of help, much like Olić had been.
“My position is that there must be former players in the professional staff. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never had a chance to be an A national team player and that’s why I need people who have been through that. I expect help from Vedran as I had from Ivica Olić. In general, I expect my closest associates to point out things to me that I don’t see, regardless of the fact that I will ultimately make the final decision. I thank Vedran for being with us, it is a great honour for all of us, he was important to me in Russia, although in some situations he was probably angry with me. However, we are all here on a common task, we all want to help the national team and no one is looking at the ego, but the success of the team. That is what keeps us going,” Dalic said.
The 35-year-old Ćorluka made his professional debut for Dinamo Zagreb in 2003 before playing also for Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Lokomotiv Moscow.
He retired from the Croatian national team after the 2018 World Cup after earning 103 caps for his country.
Croatia will start their EURO 2020 preparations in the Istrian seaside town of Rovinj from 25-28 May. The squad will then head play two friendlies, against Armenia in Velika Gorica on 1 June and against Belgium in Brussels on 6 June.
From 8 June, Croatia will be in Scotland at their St. Andrews base before they head to London on 11 June for their first match two days later.
Croatia’s Euro fixtures:
13 June — England v Croatia — 3 pm Wembley Stadium
18 June — Croatia v Czech Republic — 6 pm Hampden Park
22 June — Croatia v Scotland — 9 pm Hampden Park