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Pride in tamed Croatian lions

Published: Tuesday 19 June 2012, 12.50CET
Team reporter Elvir Islamović returns to the Croatian sunshine thinking he could do with a little more bad weather in Poland – Slaven Bilić's side, battling like lions, deserved more.
by Elvir Islamović
from Gdansk
 
 
Published: Tuesday 19 June 2012, 12.50CET

Pride in tamed Croatian lions

Team reporter Elvir Islamović returns to the Croatian sunshine thinking he could do with a little more bad weather in Poland – Slaven Bilić's side, battling like lions, deserved more.

In the last 20 minutes of the match against Spain I was cold. Yes, cold. I even surprised myself, but I think I can explain why.

When Ivan Rakitić's header was brilliantly saved by Iker Casillas midway through the second half on Monday amid great pressure from Croatia, I closed my eyes and started to think. 'My team came to EURO, they defeated Ireland, didn't lose to global power Italy and are battling against European and world champions like lions. Whatever happens in the last 20 minutes, they will deserve praise and cheers.'

©Sportsfile

A Croatia fan mulls his side's exit

I was enjoying plucky Croatia playing wonderful football against probably the strongest team in the world. It's a shame the team didn't go through, but what they did over the past couple of weeks has made the people back home in Croatia proud. I was proud too.

From when they arrived in Warka to when they departed, I was delighted to be part of this story. I chatted with the players daily, discussed music with Slaven Bilić, carried out exclusive interviews and watched training sessions; there was nothing monotonous about my daily routine.

I supported Poland with the locals and travelled to Poznan and Gdansk for the games. I will never forget the beautiful weather on the morning after Croatia's victory over Ireland, nor the clouds breaking after an awful day of rain for the Italy draw. How apt was the vicious storm in Gdansk that began just after Croatia's loss to Spain?

Thunder, lightning, rain and wind. I return to the Croatian sunshine thinking that I could do with a little more bad weather.

Last updated: 22/06/12 3.25CET

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