Kochi: Dario Vidosic was just a baby when his family moved to Australia from erstwhile Yugoslavia. His father Rado played for the Queensland Lions, a Brisbane-based club that also kicked off his youth career years later. While Dario grew up a proper Aussie with an unmistakable accent, prospered as a footballer and represented the country at the youth and senior levels he never deserted his Balkan past and is today a proud member of the Croatian community in Melbourne that is thrilled about Croatia’s entry into the World Cup final.
“We’re all really excited about the final,” says Vidosic, an attacking midfielder with Melbourne City FC, who is expected to visit Kochi later this month for a pre-season tournament also involving Kerala Blasters as hosts, and Girona FC from the La Liga in Spain. “In the 1998 world cup we were leading 1-0 but lost 2-1 in the semifinals. We lost to the French then and now we’ve got a chance for revenge.”
The 31-year-old, who joined Melbourne last season and made an instant impact scoring nine goals in the A-League, is hoping Croatia lift the trophy. “It will be something amazing for the country with such a small population.”
Vidosic’s Melbourne teammate Eugene Galekovic, a veteran goalkeeper who was part of Australia’s 2014 World Cup squad, has already made plans for watching the midnight football showdown on television, with family and friends.
“It means a lot to the Croatian people,” said Galekovic, who returned to his home town Melbourne last season after spending 10 years with Adelaide. The 37-year-old, who was born in Melbourne, remembers the disappointment from 20 years ago when Davor Suker’s opener wasn’t enough and a Lilian Thuram brace dumped Croatia out of the competition. He is hoping the tiny nation can do the unthinkable this time for the several Croatian families, including his, now living in Australia. “Our parents and grandparents are very patriotic people and this (final) has brought everyone together in support of the country,” says Galekovic.