Another player going by the ‘Il Professore’ moniker, this time by the Italian sports journalists, Kovacic has been cited as one of the best footballers ever to come out of Croatia. A receiver of a national honour from his home state, we take a look at some of the contemporary best quotes about Mateo Kovacic.
With four Champions league triumphs already under his belt with Real Madrid and Chelsea, Kovacic has already collected 81 international caps in ten years.
Born in Austria to Bosnian Croat parents, he played for his first senior club Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia, and won three League and two knockout Cup honours, before moving to Italian side Inter Milan, and then having a successful three seasons at Spanish side Real Madrid.
A remarkable nine major trophies were collected with the team, including the La Liga once, and three consecutive Champions League victories. In fact, Real won four trophies in a season in two successive years.
Having been on loan to Chelsea during his time with Real, Kovacic became a permanent fixture in 2019, and went on to succeed with another two trophies in one season and a couple of runners-up spots.
Not a great scorer of goals, his main abilities lie in his playmaking from midfield, as well as his technically efficient dribbling skills. With Croatia, he was part of the team that reached the final of the 2018 World Cup.
“…..is definitely a hint of Roberto Baggio about him.”
Milan Rapaic (Perugia player)
“…..he is the greatest footballer ever born among the Croats.”
Ivan Cvjetkovic (former Croatian footballer)
“…..a professor of football.”
Nico Kranjcar (Croatia team-mate)
“The player has talents that could make him even better than me. He is an incredibly serious professional for someone his age. Kovacic is a complete player. He is not a born regista but he is playing there now. He is a complete talent that can still grow – he has incredible potential.”
Zvonimir Boban (former AC Milan player)
“With the exception of Ronaldo…..yes. Mateo is the most promising. He exploded in what was a very difficult season for us. He has enormous skills; now he just has to confirm that potential, to grow up.”
Javier Zanetti (former Inter Milan player)
“He has the ability to become the best player in the world in his position…..He has extreme qualities and he is already mature for his age.”
Samir Handanovic (Inter Milan goalkeeper)
“He isn’t a director like Pirlo. Given Kovacic’s style of play and his technical characteristics he’s more of a mix of Kaka and Seedorf. Kovacic tends to dribble, has a lot of technique and great acceleration. He’s a class player and I think his skills should be exploited to the best.”
Giovanni Trapattoni (former manager)
“I think Mateo Kovacic is really a top player, one to watch for the future. He resembles Andres Iniesta in his movements; but he can improve his skills especially his shooting…..let’s give him time to develop and show his qualities. I’m sure we will see an incredible player, one who I think is perfect for a number of top teams.”
Fabrizio Romano (Italian journalist)
“I have great belief in the lad…..his talent is there for all to see…..He played something like 70 or 75 balls and only got five or six wrong – that’s incredible…..a certain star for the future.”
Andrea Stramaccioni (Inter Milan coach)
“I am sure that (Kovacic) will succeed Modric as he has incredible talent…..I adore him. Although he has improved a lot, we have not yet seen all he can give. But we will. He is the future of Madrid. He needs time…..”
Darijo Srna (Croatia team captain)
“I haven’t seen a youngster with so much talent since the days of Robert Prosinecki.”
Martin Novoselac (Croatia youth manager)