- Danijel Subasic recalls playing through the pain to make history against Russia
- The Croatia keeper discusses the semi-final against ‘fantastic’ England
- Subasic revels in his World Cup dream
By Vjekoslav Paun with Croatia
Danijel Subasic embodied heroism in Sochi. The Croatia goalkeeper went into the FIFA World Cup™ quarter-finals carrying a knock, aggravated it against Russia, played through the pain rather than going off, made a fine block from a tight angle to deny the hosts victory in second-half stoppage time, and saved a penalty to help his country win the shootout.
It made Croatia just the second side in the competition’s history to win back-to-back ties on penalties – Subasic repelled three spot-kicks as they eliminated Denmark in the Round of 16 – after Argentina in 1990. It made the 33-year-old only the third man to make four saves in World Cup shootouts, equalling the record shared by Harald Schumacher and Sergio Goycochea.
It also underscored why many feel Subasic, who kept clean sheets in his two appearances in the group stage, against Nigeria and a Lionel Messi-spearheaded Argentina, is among the forerunners for the adidas Golden Glove.
"I started warming up before kick-off and I felt the pain in the muscle,” Subasic explained to FIFA.com after the thriller at Fisht Stadium. “My physiotherapist massaged my leg a bit and saw I could play.
“Later, I felt the pain again, but I didn’t want to give up. I knew that the coach needed another substitution. During the break the masseurs did some quick work and, like a Formula One car after a pit stop, I was as good as new.
“It’s been a long season, but you play in a World Cup semi-final once in a lifetime and there’s no point giving up now.”
Croatia’s opponents in Moscow are England, and Subasic is relishing the clash.
"England have great players - they are a fantastic team,” he said. “They have a lot of youngsters, but they are really good, fast, they play for great clubs. It will be another very tough match for us, a great challenge.
“We don’t really care about who we play or who are the favourites. It’s important that we do our best on the pitch. Just do your best and it ends how it ends.”
A Croatia side featuring Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki and Davor Suker wowed the world at France 1998, leading the hosts before falling 2-1 in the semi-finals. And the Monaco man, who was voted Ligue 1’s best goalkeeper in 2016/17, is determined for the Vatreni not to fall at the same stage again.
"Some of my personal, life goals were to play at the World Cup and especially this: to play a significant role in the games. I've worked hard at my club to achieve this level, and now I enjoy it. Let this story go on!”