After his revelation last week that he would be stepping down as Croatia coach following UEFA EURO 2012, Slaven Bilić announced today that he had accepted an offer to take the reins at Russian Premier-League club FC Lokomotiv Moskva.
The 43-year-old has led his national team since 2006 but will now embark on a new challenge in Moscow, having signed a three-year contract with Lokomotiv. "There were a lot of clubs who were interested in me from different countries," Bilić said before explaining his decision to opt for Lokomotiv. "I met the president [Olga Smorodskaya]; she 'bought' me with her plan, with her energy and her ambition for me to be in charge.
"Her plan is to get big results within three years," Bilić added. "It's a league where you have seven or eight clubs with equal chances of winning the championship. It's a big challenge for me and with my team I can do big things with Lokomotiv." It will be Bilić’s first experience in club management aside from a short spell in charge of HNK Hajduk Split in 2001/02.
Bilić, who replaced Zlatko Kranjčar as Croatia coach in July 2006, is hopeful of achieving something big with his country first. "Some people will say that I should or shouldn't say this before the EURO. But I think it will be a plus for my players. We will have a great atmosphere and with hard work I am expecting big things at the EURO."
And whatever happens to a Croatia side who face the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Spain in Group C in Poland, he believes the future is bright. Croatia have been in the top ten in FIFA's world ranking since June 2007 and Bilić said: "Whoever comes after me will inherit a good team from me, a team who were in the top ten for the last five years. They have a balance of youth and experience, and there's an excellent spirit. I am leaving my successor a top team."
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