Blazevic: I'm proud to have been topped by my student

Blazevic: I'm proud to have been topped by my student Izvor: N1

Miroslav Blazevic, former Croatia manager who led the team to third place in their World Cup debut in 1998, commented for N1 Wednesday's semi-final win over England, which saw Croatia book a place in the tournament final against France.

"There is nothing more beautiful than this, and I am very happy to see that a student of mine (current Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic) topped my result. I always heard stories how a professor is pleased to see his student surpass his achievements, he certainly surpassed mine, and brought joy to the Croatian people, both those in the country and all over the world. There is not a single Croat who did not feel exceptionally happy and proud yesterday," Blazevic said, and added that Dalic is an honest man.

Current Croatia manager, Zlatko Dalic, retired from playing in 2000 at Varazdin-based Varteks football club but remained with the club as director of sports. Early in his coaching career he was assistant manager to Blazevic at the club, from 2004 to 2005.

"This result has brought back dignity to Croatians, it affirmed this small country. We have outstanding players, and sports allowed us to show this class that we have to everyone, and to do what I wish we would do - to become world champions," Blazevic said.

The Wednesday's win meant that Croatia became the smallest nation to reach a World Cup final, after Uruguay in 1950.

Before the match, there was some concern that we may lack energy - but I only saw that in England's players, not ours, he added.

He was asked to comment on how France manager Didier Deschamps - who had played in the 1998 France team that had knocked out Blazevic's Croatia in the semi-final - might prepare his team for the final clash with Croatia.

Early in his career, Deschamps had played at the French club FC Nantes in the late 1980s when the club's coach was Blazevic.

"I managed Deschamps when he played at Nantes, I decided to make him captain at age 18 because he was born to be a leader. He said recently that I dream of seeing Croatia get back to France - and frankly, I do. When we lost against the French, it was due to injustice, and we just might see justice return now, which would be the greatest sports miracle in the last 100 years," Blazevic said.

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