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Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Saturday, 21 June 2008 18:47 UK

Bilic came close to quitting job

Croatia boss Slaven Bilic
Bilic's name has been linked with moves to the Premier League

Croatia manager Slaven Bilic said he was close to resigning after his team's dramatic Euro 2008 quarter-final penalty shootout exit to Turkey.

Croatia looked certain for a semi-final place after taking a late 1-0 lead in extra-time, only for Turkey to level and win the spot-kick contest.

"I wanted to quit last night, not as a manager of Croatia but as a manager," Bilic told Football Focus.

"But I love football and I love these guys, we're going to come back again."

Ivan Klasnic's 119th-minute goal sparked ecstatic celebrations from Croatia's players and staff, including Bilic, who raced on to the pitch to embrace his players.

But their joy immediately turned to anguish as Turkey's Semih Senturk equalised with the very last kick of the match, a goal which had incensed Bilic, who was trying to make a late substitution.

"We are still gutted and we will be for a long, long time," he said.

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"I came into the dressing room and saw my players crying like kids, I think we deserved to win the game.

"We tried to defend, we tried to make substitutes, but they (match officials) didn't let us."

Penalty misses from Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, while a saved spot-kick from Mladen Petric, saw Turkey book their place against Germany in the semi-finals in Basel on Wednesday with a 3-1 shootout win.

Interview: Croatia coach Slaven Bilic

Bilic's management style has won him admirers across Europe and his name has been linked with moves to Premier League clubs, even though he has signed a contract extension with Croatia until the 2010 World Cup.

However, the 39-year-old reassured Croatia fans he wants to stay on as national team boss.

He said: "I don't think about 'should I go to another club or should I stay?'

"I only think about my players and the way we played. We were doing it step by step, the way we were playing without (injured Arsenal striker) Eduardo, nine points in three games, we didn't fade.

"It's a huge disappointment to lose, but life goes on - we are definitely going to be back."




see also
Bilic philosophical at Euro exit
20 Jun 08 |  Croatia
Croatia 1-1 Turkey (1-3 pens)
20 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Croatia v Turkey photos
20 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Poland 0-1 Croatia
16 Jun 08 |  Euro 2008
Pick your Croatia XI
23 May 08 |  Croatia
Croatia team guide
15 May 08 |  Croatia
Turkey team guide
15 May 08 |  Turkey
Croatia deal ends Bilic jobs link
30 Apr 08 |  Internationals


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