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Croatia's Jelovčić lives up to family name

Franko Jelovčić, the son of one of Croatia's great futsal players, has proved some talent himself in Antwerp and ahead of the quarter-final with Italy says their belief is rocketing.

Franko Jelovčić has scored in both Croatia games so far
Franko Jelovčić has scored in both Croatia games so far ©Sportsfile

The pressure is high enough on one of Croatia's key men Franko Jelovčić at UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 in Antwerp without carrying the extra expectations that go with his surname.

Franko’s father Robertino Jelovčić played for Croatia at the first UEFA Futsal EURO finals of 1999 and is regarded as one of the great talents of the game, not least here in Belgium where he spent much of his club career. The junior Jelovčić, though, is his own man.

"All my life people have said, 'Your father is better than you', and so on," Jelovčić told UEFA.com. "But I am Franko, he is Robertino, I just want to improve every day. I don't care who is better. His friend [in Belgium] has spoken to me and told me he was a great player – and he is glad his son is also playing well, it is meant to be."

The 22-year-old MNK Split forward has certainly stamped his own mark on the tournament with fine displays in the 3-3 draws with Spain and the Czech Republic which set up Tuesday's quarter-final with the team that beat them to 2012 bronze in Zagreb, Italy. "We are satisfied," he said. "We have played two good matches, we thought we would improve against the Czech Republic and we did play well, we had a lot of chances. We often don't think of ourselves that we are that good, but we are really good. We're certainly ready to play Italy and can give a good account of ourselves.

"Italy are a great team, we watched them against Azerbaijan and they were really good. But we have studied them and prepared for them and with some great preparations we can match them. There is no doubt they are favourites, but we are not afraid."

Part of the Croatia side that were semi-finalists as hosts two years ago, Jelovčić is pleased they have proved they can match that abroad too. "It was important for us as a lot of people in Croatia said we only got to the semi-finals because we were at home," he said. "But we are playing good futsal, and we are growing into one of the best teams in Europe."

As for his own improvement into one of the most impressive players in Antwerp so far: "Over the last two years I have worked on my attacking game, and it has paid off. I must thank my coach [Mato Stanković], he has believed in me and it is great to play for Croatia and my coach. I hope I continue to improve."