Aside from Alen Halilovic, 20-year-old Mateo Kovacic is arguably Croatian football’s most promising young player and has already drawn comparisons with Real Madrid star Luka Modric. Born in 1994 and raised in Austria, the attacking midfielder returned to Zagreb with his family in 2007.
He made his professional debut at Dinamo Zagreb, grabbing his first senior goals in 2010 at the age of just 16, thereby becoming the youngest goalscorer in the club’s history - though his record was soon surpassed by team-mate Halilovic. Kovacic has also won two league championship medals with Dinamo.
In 2013, he fulfilled the dream of a lifetime by signing for Italian giants Inter Milan. “Inter won many titles when I was still a young boy. It’s unbelievable to be signing for such a great club. I can’t describe my feelings now,” said the young prodigy at the time. Despite his tender age, Kovacic made six appearances for Croatia during the Vatreni’s most recent FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign. It is surely only a matter of time before he becomes a regular for the national side.