Stipe Pletikosa: Croatian legend of Russian football
Croatian legionaries have always played great for Russian and Ukrainian football teams. Darijo Srna, Ivica Olic, Vedran Chorluka - all these players were not just serving their number on the field, but showed everything they were capable of. However, one of the brightest and most memorable football players from this country is goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, whose biography will be outlined below. From 2007 to 2015, with breaks, he played at the gate, speaking for the Russian Premier League teams. On his account performances at three world championships for the national team of Croatia.
Originally from Split
He was born Stipe Pletikosa in the Croatian city of Split in 1979. Despite its small size, Split is famous for its football team - one of the best in Croatia. Stipe’s most vivid childhood memories are connected with his father’s campaigns for football matches of the local “Hajduk” with the grands of Yugoslav football, such as “Red Star”, “Partizan”.
Not surprisingly, football for Pletikosa became a favorite pastime. He started playing at the age of five.
As the footballer later told, he lived in a poor family, huddling with his mother and two sisters in a small room. The first goalkeeper gloves, he was able to buy himself only in 16 years. Nevertheless, the progress was enormous, and from the age of seventeen he managed to get into his beloved Hajduk.
Young star of Croatia
The young goalkeeper immediately became the favorite of Hajduk fans. The fans could not fail to appreciate the selfless game and dedication of the pupil of his club. This love and support was manifested in one of the matches of the Croatian championship in 1999. Then the goalkeeper, who only recovered from the illness, missed the ridiculous ball into his own net. But instead of screaming outrage and anger, Stipe heard his name chanting in support. Such moments gave confidence to the football player, and soon he became the best in his role in his homeland.
In 2002, Stipe Pletikosa was even recognized as the best player in Croatia, becoming the second goalkeeper to be awarded this honor. In the same season, he played for the first time at the World Championships for the national team.
He was fortunate enough to catch a moment when national football legends played in the main team of the country - Shuker, Boban. However, at that time the national team was experiencing a period of change of generations and did not show a stable game, having flown out of the tournament after the group stage.
From Split to Donetsk
The confident game of the young goalkeeper could not help but attract attention from the leading European clubs. In 2003, Stipe Pletikosa was invited to the Ukrainian Shakhtar. To prevent the Croat from getting bored far from his homeland, his Haiduk partner Dario Srna went with him to Donetsk. The latter played for Shakhtar for more than ten years and became a real legend of the club. The Donetsk team in those years was a serious, ambitious project, and a lot of money was invested in the club for development.
Mircea Lucescu created a strong team of excellent players, Shakhtar played on an equal footing with the most formidable opponents. Not the last contribution to this was made by the Croatian goalkeeper, ensuring the reliability of the gate.
Then Stipe did not do so well, and in the 2004-2005 season. he loses his place at the base. He is even sent to rent back home in "Hajduk" Not wanting to put up with the post of second goalkeeper, in 2007 Stipe Pletikosa moved to Spartak Moscow, which at that time needed to replace Wojciech Kovalevsky.
The victim of a limit on foreign players
In Spartak Stipe continued to show the usual high level of the game. Tall, bouncy, well choosing a position, he became the most reliable link in the defense of the red and white team. For his ability to firmly fix the balls after the most powerful blows, he was even called an octopus. A football shell seemed to stick to his gloves. Three seasons Stipe Pletikosa was the undisputed number one in the position of the goalkeeper in the Moscow club.
However, in 2009, the Croat have problems. He still remained the best goalkeeper of the club, was one of the best goalkeepers of the entire Russian championship, but non-player factors interfere with his fate.
In Russian football began to act limits on foreign players. In the Premier League match, the club could only put a certain number of foreign players. Spartak coach Valery Karpin decided to put the Russians in the gate in order to be able to produce more foreign field players. So he lost his place at the base of Pletikosa Stipe, where Soslan Canan was now.
A proud football player did not tolerate such a role and did not tolerate discrimination due to the lack of a Russian passport.He began to look for options in other clubs. In 2009, it was an option to be in Tottenham, but the transition failed due to a goalkeeper injury. In the London team, Stipe Pletikosa appeared a year later. However, he was not entrusted with a place in the starting lineup, and he was able to play just one match in the FA Cup.
In 2011, Stipe Pletikosa returned to Russian football. At the service of the Croatian goalkeeper turned FC "Rostov". The charismatic player immediately became one of the symbols of the club. Photo Stipe Pletikosa appeared in all sports local newspapers. About his role in the team says the fact that he was entrusted with the captain's armband.
This honor was awarded to few foreign players, especially those playing in the goal. In 2012, Stipe was recognized as the best player of Rostov for the year.
Together with the club Pletikosa won its first tournament in Russia - the Cup of the country. He played for Rostov, until 2015, after which he moved to Spanish Deportivo, where he ended his career in 2016.
Stipe Pletikosa - a bright goalkeeper and an extraordinary man. His farewell from “Rostov” were like no other local football player, which says a lot.Whatever clubs Stipe played, he always won the hearts of the fans with his attitude.