Emilija LEKO (Age 12)
Ever since I’d heard from my friends that Josip Šimunić was coming to Canberra to promote the documentary film ‘Moja Voljena Hrvatska’, I got it in my head that I really wanted to meet him. I’d heard that Josip was born in Canberra and as a kid he had started playing soccer for Croatia Deakin Soccer Club, where the film was being shown Friday, 5 February.
So, I tagged along with my Dad and encouraged by my parents, I prepared some questions in the hope of meeting Josip and was lucky enough to have the opportunity conduct a short interview with him.
EL: How does it feel to be back in the Club where your football career started?
JŠ: It’s a great feeling and brings back a lot of good memories. It is always good to come back to Canberra and see my family and friends.
EL: Did you ever think you would make it as far as you did in your career?
JŠ: Sometimes I wonder when I see what goes on in football today, but I always believed in myself and I think it did pretty well. I’m very, very happy with how my career panned out.
EL: Who was your biggest inspiration growing up as a kid?
JŠ: There was a lot of people who inspired me. I would have to say mostly my parents and my family. As well as all of the coaches I had and all of the people, not just in coaching, who believe in something and they give their best for what they believe in.
EL: What was the biggest setback in your career?
JŠ: At the start of my professional career I had a lot of bad luck with injuries. I fractured or broke my fifth metatarsal four times in the same spot. That is the long bone on the outside of the foot which connects to the little toe and I was on the sidelines for two years.
EL: Who is the best Croatian footballer you have played with?
JŠ: There’s actually three. Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Niko Kranjčar.
EL: Who is the best footballer you have played with or against?
JŠ: I would have to say Zlatan Ibrahimović.
EL: If you could have the opportunity to play with any footballer, who would that be?
JŠ: Lionel Messi.
EL: What is the favourite club you played for and why?
JŠ: Hertha Berlin because it is a huge club and Berlin is a great city.
EL: Is there a club you wish you had played for?
JŠ: If I could go back, I would have probably signed for Bayern Munich or Juventus. But they are the decisions you make in life and, at the end of the day, I am still more than happy with the career that I enjoyed.
EL: Which is the favourite stadium you got to play in?
JŠ: Olympiastadion or the Berlin Olympic Stadium. It’s also the home ground of Hertha Berlin and has a 75,000 seat capacity which creates a fantastic atmosphere.
EL: What is the biggest crowd you have played in front of for the Croatian National team?
JŠ: Over 70,000 people at Yokohama International Stadium in the 2002 World Cup.
EL: Which one match was the standout of your career?
JŠ: There is a few – but I would have to say the last game that I played for the Croatian National team against Iceland. There are a number of reasons – but mainly because we finally qualified for the World Cup in Brazil.
EL: Which do you think is the best league in the world?
JŠ: The English Premier League and the German Bundesliga are equal first, followed closely by the Spanish Primera.
EL: Do you regret not having the opportunity to play in the EPL?
JŠ: No. I don’t really regret it. I’m happy with the choices I made throughout my career. It would have nice to play in the EPL, but it was also an honour to play in the German Bundesliga for so many years.
EL: Do you regret turning down any transfer offers?
JŠ: No. I turned a lot of transfer offers and I don’t regret turning down any of them.
EL: Will you encourage your children to play football or any other sport?
JŠ: I will encourage my children to do what they like to do and what they enjoy doing, which may not necessarily be football. Hopefully it will be in a sport though, as I think sport is very important for every child.
EL: Finally. Is there any advice you can give to young aspiring footballers?
JŠ: The best advice I can offer kids is to have fun, love what they do, do their best every single time – at every training and in every match. If they do that, everything else will fall into place.
EL: Thank you very much for your time, it was pleasure meeting you.
JŠ: Thank you.