'100 club' Ivica Olic hopes to play against Norway
Croatia's 35-year-old forward Ivica Olic hopes to earn his 101st international cap when his country faces Norway in Saturday's UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier.
Zagreb: Croatia's 35-year-old forward Ivica Olic hopes to earn his 101st international cap when his country faces Norway in Saturday's UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier.
Olic received a commemorative Croatian jersey with the number 100 printed on the back on Wednesday after he joined the '100 club' with Dario Simic, Stipe Pletikosa, Darijo Srna and Joe Simunic as the fifth player who have played at least 100 matches for Croatia, reports Xinhua.
"I wanted to end my international career after the World Cup. But when I spoke to coach Niko Kovac, he told me that I should try to get to the 100th cap. Then Srna and Simunic, guys that did that before me, told me the same and I started to think about it," Olic said.
"It was never a question of will. I just didn't want to put the pressure on myself that I have to do it or on the coach that he has to pick me just to make it to 100. Now that I am holding this jersey I can tell you it's not so easy to do it," Olic said, holding the prize he got from football legend Davor Suker.
In his 13 years with the Croatian national team, Olic scored 19 goals and has tasted both great victories and big disappointments.
"I will always remember the first goal that I scored against Bosnia and Herzegovina in a friendly. The No.1 on my list will always be a victory against Italy at the 2002 World Cup. We didn't have a great tournament but I scored the goal and it was my first big victory with the national team. It meant a lot for my career."
Then there was the biggest disappointment -- the quarterfinal loss at the 2008 Euro against Turkey after the penalty shootout with the Turks scoring the equaliser in the dying seconds of extra time.
"I was twice a member of a losing side in the Champions League final but I would get over these losses in a few days. This one against Turkey stuck with me for a month. I was never that sad. It took a long time for that wound to heal."
Olic will celebrate his 36th birthday in September but he still looks as fresh as a junior.
"My abilities and extra work that I put in from early age to preserve my body made me competitive. When I was younger I was lightning fast. Now I am older but I am still fast."
His abilities got him a new two year deal in Bundesliga and Hamburger SV didn't spare cash to bring Olic back from Wolfsburg.
"HSV paid two million euros of transfer fee and offered me a two year contract. For a player of my age that is not something usual in Bundesliga and I am very proud of that," Olic said.
Through the years he became one of the most loved Croatian players.
"I always gave everything playing for the national team and people recognised that. I could never have it any other way. Playing for Croatia was always something special for me as I am sure it is for any player that wears the red and white checkered jersey," he concluded.