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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
The alternative guide to Croatia
What do we really know about the 16 nations taking part in Euro 2004?

From their footballing pedigree to their favourite food, find out about the countries heading to Portugal.


Footballing legend:

The Croatia national side has only been in existence since 1990, but the country has still managed to produce a large number of outstanding players in that short space of time.

Many had been part of a successful Yugoslavia youth side during the late 1980s, players like Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Davor Suker and Robert Jarni - who helped Croatia to Euro 96 and third place at the 2002 World Cup.

But Croatia's real hero is a player who was the top scorer at 1962 World Cup, Drazen Jerkovic.

The Dinamo Zagreb player even had time to do his national service before the event - what a legend.


Dish of the day:

Dandy's Desperate Dan
Pie: Not the Croatian variety
The Croats eat fairly simple food, although that's not to say the cuisine is dull.

Their dishes are influenced by surrounding countries. For example, they have their own version of Italy's minestrone soup and a meat pie called burek that hails from Turkey.

Croats have taken their recipes around the world and the largest Croatian community outside their own country is in Australia.

However, contrary to rumours, there is no Balkan take on the kangaroo steak.


National treasures:

Although, he was strictly not a Croat, this famous figure did speak the language and was born in a Croatian enclave in Austria.

We're talking about 18th century classical composer Joseph Haydn.

Hadyn composed The Creation, The Seasons and also..er..the German national anthem.


Eurovision pedigree:

Claudia Beni
Beni: Not the one from Crossroads
Croatia first entered the Eurovision Song Contest in 1993, and have achieved more top 10 finishes than Tiger Woods has this year.

The band Put (that's right, Put) sang Don't Ever Cry (My Croatian Sky), which was a song about the the effects of civil war.

The country's last entry came from 16-year-old Claudia Beni, who sang Vise Nisam Tvoja which in English means I Can't Be Your Lover.

She also released a song called Croatian Women Love You, written for the national football team competing at the 2002 World Cup.

Croatia failed to make it past the group stages, but at least they could look forward to a warm welcome back from their female fans.


National dress:

Like most countries in Europe, you won't find many folk in the main cities wearing the traditional outfit.

In Croatia, people (especially in the workplace) judge others by the way they dress.

So donning the traditional brightly coloured folk costume in the office would not send out the right signals to peers and superiors, unless of course it was 'dress-down Friday'.


Croatia's Davor Suker
Schmeichel was the victim of a Suker-punch
Magic moment:

It is arguably striker Davor Suker's cheeky chip over Denmark keeper Peter Schmeichel during Euro '96.

Hot on the heels would be Croatia claiming third-place at the 1998 World Cup, eight years after playing their first international. Looking at it another way, that's one place better than South Korea in 2002.


Nightmare moment

Defender Slaven Bilic's 'dying swan' impression which not only resulted in Laurent Blanc's dismissal from the field but also resulted in the Frenchman missing the World Cup final.

The pair have since become firm friends.

OK, we lied about that last bit.



Links to more Croatia stories


 

EURO 2004 ALTERNATIVE GUIDE
 


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