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Rovers World Cup Connections: Croatia

2 June 2018

As the FIFA World Cup edges ever closer - we take a look at the links between Rovers and Croatia.

Croatia are competing in their fifth World Cup Finals, having been semi finalists in 1998.

The Croatian Irishman

Whilst no Rovers players have ever furthered their careers in Croatia, one inter war opponent certainly did so.

Born in Mayo in December 1899, Irishman Jim Donnelly served in the Royal Artillery in World War One before playing at full back for a number of Football League sides. He was in the Southend United team for both their fixtures against Rovers in the 1924/25 campaign and he scored the consolation goal late on from the penalty spot for Thames, as this short lived London based side lost 2-1 to Rovers in April 1931.

Donnelly subsequently spent the 1932/33 season with Croatian side Gradjanski Zagreb before joining the Turkish side Gunes.

A Croat against the Pirates

Two Croatian nationals have opposed Rovers in the Football League.

First, Ivan Golac played for Bournemouth against Rovers in November 1982. He had one cap for Yugoslavia to his name and had played for Partizan Belgrade between 1968 and 1978, a club he was also later to manage.

Later Ahmet Brković, a former HNK Dubrovnik player who was born in Dubrovnik in September 1974, played for Luton Town against Rovers in February 2002 and was in Millwall’s side for both their League fixtures against The Gas during the 2007/08 campaign. 

A Career in Croatia

Few players from Liberia have opposed Rovers, but Mass Sarr could also claim to have played professionally in Croatia.

Born in Monrovia in February 1973, Sarr won 79 full caps for his country and had left French football in 1995 to spend three seasons with Croatian side Hajduk Split, scoring seven goals in 59 matches.

In January 1999 he came on as a substitute when Rovers played Reading at the Madejski Stadium. Unfortunately for him and to the utter glee of Rovers’ supporters, Rovers won this match 6-0, after a goalless first-half, with Jamie Cureton scoring the first four goals and Jason Roberts the final two.

 


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