Niko: Euro 2008 defeat still hurts
Midfielder recalls clash with Turkey as Croatia prepare for Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Niko Kranjcar has told tottenhamhotspur.com that Croatia's Euro 2008 defeat to Turkey is the worst moment of his football career.
As Croatia prepare to take on the same opposition in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, the injured midfielder spoke to Spurs TV Online about his memories of the match that took place three-and-a-half years ago.
Croatia scored in the 119th minute of the quarter-final to take a 1-0 lead and looked to have won the match, only for Turkey to equaliser with the last kick of the game before going on to win the contest in a penalty shoot-out.
"That match is probably the worst memory in my football career because we had a great atmosphere, we had a great team and we were 20 seconds away from getting into the semi-finals of the Euros to play against Germany, who we had already beaten in the group stages.
"It was like the whole world collapsed in that couple of seconds. It still has a scar on us."
The two teams will face each other on Friday in Istanbul and again on Tuesday in Zagreb for the right to play in next summer's European Championships. Niko, who will attend both matches to give his teammates his support, believes it will be important for the Croatian players to try and put the pain of the Euro 2008 defeat out of their minds when they step onto the pitch.
"It's impossible to dismiss the thought of revenge but we need to play it with cool heads. If we win then it will help with the healing process but that memory will never go away from me.
"It's very important to win because we didn't qualify for the last big tournament, the World Cup in 2010. We all believed that the Euro 2012 qualifying group we had was pretty easy for a team of our standard and that we should have gone through without having to play extra qualifiers.
"Unfortunately we weren't good enough, and we're now in a place that we didn't want to be and didn't expect to be. But we still have a chance to qualify and we still have a team that I believe is capable of doing that.
"I won't be able to play but I'll go to both games and give my support. The nerves are going to be as high as they get. I really believe and hope that we will win these two games."