The new president of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), Davor Šuker, has visited the House of European Football in Nyon.
The renowned former Croatia national-team striker, who was elected HNS president in July, met UEFA President Michel Platini and held discussions with senior UEFA representatives on developments within Croatian football and on UEFA's help to the HNS under its assistance programmes, including HatTrick and the women's football development programme (WFDP). He was accompanied by HNS executive president Damir Vrbanović, head of international affairs and licensing Ivančica Sudac, and Zoran Cvrk, responsible for security and special projects
"It's an honour for me to come to UEFA as a footballer who is now president," Davor Šuker told UEFA.com. "I trained in Nyon with Real Madrid, and I'm now here for the first time at the headquarters. I'm glad to have this important meeting for the Croatian Football Federation, and to work together with Michel Platini, because we care about football."
Following the break-up of Yugoslavia, Croatia regained independence in 1991. The HNS renewed its membership of the world football body FIFA in July 1992 before joining UEFA in June 1993. Croatia's national team immediately showed their promise, reaching the EURO '96 quarter-finals in England on their major championship debut.
More notable success was to come at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Croatia – for whom Šuker top-scored in the tournament with six goals – finished a splendid third in the competition after narrowly losing the semi-final to hosts France. Since then, Croatia have continued to qualify regularly for the world and European final rounds.
In a distinguished club career, Šuker also won a Spanish Liga title and the 1997/98 UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid CF. Additionally he enjoyed fine spells with home-town side NK Osijek, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Sevilla FC, Arsenal FC, West Ham United FC and TSV 1860 München. Involved with the HNS since 2010, Šuker has been active in the work of the regional football bodies, and has always been considered an ambassador for Croatian football – a role he will continue to assume as HNS president.
"We have talked about football in the long term, and the development of the association, the leagues, the competitions," the 44-year-old added of today's meeting. "We will do all we can, especially to help young Croatians who like football. We are happy to be part of UEFA and to be able to take part in its projects – HatTrick, grassroots – to help develop football in Croatia." The next big target for Croatia is for the senior team to reach the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014. "We are also to build a national training centre next year with UEFA's help," Šuker explained, "as well as four regional centres in Croatia."
Croatia's footballers have excelled through the decades. Bernard Vukas, Vladimir Beara, Zlatko Čajkovski and Branko Zebec were in a FIFA representative side that played a commemorative international in London in 1953; Dražan Jerković was joint-top scorer at the 1962 World Cup before Šuker's own feat in 1998. Robert Prosinečki and Zvonimir Boban were the best players at the 1987 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Chile. Šuker was voted as Croatia's Golden Player to mark UEFA's 50-year jubilee in 2004. Now, at the helm of his country's association, this proud football man, who gave Croatians so much joy on the field, is determined to lead the HNS into a bright, prosperous future.
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