- Mario Mandzukic announces international retirement
- Striker joined by penalty hero Danijel Subasic
- Comes nearly one month after playing in the FIFA World Cup Final
Nearly a month after playing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Final, Mario Mandzukic and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic have announced their retirement from international football.
Both were key members of the Croatia side that made history at Russia 2018 by claiming silver – their best finish at the global finals to date.
Mandzukic netted three goals for Zlatko Dalic’s side in Russia, including an extra-time winner against England in the semi-finals, as well as a consolation goal in the Final. Subasic, meanwhile, rose to the fore when saving a joint-record three penalties against Denmark in their Round of 16 shoot-out, before saving another in the quarter-final against Russia.
The pair joined vice-captain Vedran Corluka, who has also decide to end his time with the national team last week.
In an emotional message posted on his social media platforms, the Juventus star said: “World Cup silver has given me new energy, but it has also made this incredibly difficult decision a bit easier. We have made our dreams come true, achieved a historic success, and experienced an unbelievable fan support.
“That month, including the welcome in Zagreb, Slavonski Brod, and the entire Croatia, will remain the most important memory of my career. This has been the most beautiful national team journey, and my favourite return to the homeland.
“I am more than happy, fulfilled, and extremely proud of this silver, that has been forged through years, through pain, effort, work, disappointment, and difficult moments.”
Subasic echoed the sentiments, having seen the team met back home as heroes following their incredible silver medal performance. "We have been day-dreaming throughout the welcome in Zagreb, my [home city of] Zadar, and the entirety of Croatia," he said in open letter to fans. "These have been the best, most emotional moments of my career, that have defined my international career alongside the one-month adventure in Russia.
"I have given my all, with honour and pride in every match. Maybe there weren't too many, but that's less important," he said of his 44 caps in red and white. "What's important is that I am a fulfilled, happy man who played for his country and wore the most beautiful shirt in the world."
Mandzukic’s Russia 2018 goals
Mandzukic added: “There is no ideal moment to retire. If possible, we would all play for Croatia until we die, since there is no prouder feeling, but I feel this moment has come for me - now. I've given my best for Croatia, I have contributed to the biggest success of Croatian football.”
The striker made his senior international debut in 2007 and went on to represent his country at two World Cups: Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018. Prolific in front of goal, Mandzukic is Croatia’s joint-second top goalscorer after national icon Davor Suker.
Subasic similarly enjoyed his first World Cup experience in South America, though watched from the bench as Croatia exited in the group stage. Having already planned to retire after Russia 2018, because he "wanted to close this international chapter appearing at the world stage", he ends with happy memories as part of the Croatia side. "I will remember this unity, humility, and friendship from Russia until I die."