Igor Cvitanovic: “Rijeka can give Real a scare”

Igor Cvitanovic (Osijek, Croatia, 1970) only spent a year and a half in Donostia and could not meet the expectations generated by his signing for 500 million pesetas. Although his stay was not fruitful
-he scored 4 goals in 37 games-, is very fond of Real and all its people. “It's my second team.”

How are you?

I am a coach in Croatia, I started in the Third Division and then I coached Istra, in the First Division. I also entered as owner, but I left it two years ago and now I am waiting for an offer, although at the moment I work commenting on matches on local television.

Are you without a team?

Yes, right now I don't have a team. My agents are working for me because I don't want to accept any job, I hope I can have a good offer outside of Croatia, because here the league is made up of 10 teams and there are not many possibilities. Working in Spain would be a dream for me.

I was hoping to do much more at La Real but my years in Donostia were wonderful

How do you remember your time at La Real?

My time in Donostia was not so good for my career, I was hoping to do much more there and I couldn't show my level at La Real. But it's life, in some clubs you do it well and in others you don't, but many years later I can say that the years in Donostia were wonderful, I have very good memories; Real is a big club, the city is the most beautiful in Europe and it is my second team.

Where he lived?

In Ondarreta, next to the beach, he was a neighbor of Darko Kovacevic. A spectacular site.

The club believed in his signing, but it did not go as expected.

Everyone expected, me the first, much more from me. When you enter a club like Real and you arrive as a great signing and you don't perform … The first six months were good, but then I was bad, although in the 97/98 season we finished third in the league. From there, all things went wrong for me.

I was bad but we had a great team. Kovacevic is still a friend of mine and I tell you the defense by heart: Fuentes, Loren, Pikabea, Aranzabal

Do you have fond memories of the dressing room?

Of course not! Darko is still a great friend of mine, but I tell you defense from memory. Fuentes, Loren, Pikabea, Aranzabal … (laughs). Also De Pedro, De Paula, Gica, Sa Pinto … What a team we had!

Are you following the Real?

Of course, we watch the best leagues in Europe and I more because I dream of working in Spain. I follow the matches every week. La Real has been playing football very well since last year and this year too. They had a bad game against Valencia at home, but Real plays well.

How far can La Real go in Europe?

It is difficult to answer the question. La Real, as a Spanish team, is the favorite to go to the group. I hope it happens, but then you never know, it depends on the team that plays, Champions teams enter … It is difficult to pass rounds.

You also played in Europe with Real. He remembers?

Yeah sure! We lost against Atlético de Madrid in UEFA. I played against Dynamo Moscow and we won, then I played both games against Atlético and we lost 4-1 on a very sad day for everyone (Aitor Zabaleta was killed).

I played with Roberto Olabe, who was the substitute goalkeeper, and with Imanol, who played very well. Also with Javi Gracia

He also coincided with Roberto Olabe.

Yes, Roberto Olabe was the substitute goalkeeper, I also remember him.

You know you're the boss right now?

Oh yeah?

He is the soccer director.

Oh… Very good, very good, good position for Roberto (laughs). It has to work well because we see the results of the team. Now that you mention it, I also coincided with Imanol, he was with us for a while, he played very well, also Javi Gracia.

Do you know the Rijeka?

Clear. He is always in a position to play Europe, the last five years he has been the toughest rival for Dinamo and is Croatia's second team. There are four; Rijeka, Hajduk, Osijek and Dinamo. They are the best and Rijeka compete better than other teams, they have won the last two Croatian Cups and also achieved European qualification through the League.

Rijeka in the last five years has been the toughest rival for Dinamo Zagreb. Has won the last two Cups

Do you know the coach, Simon Rozman?

Personally no, he is Slovenian and young. His work is being very good in Rijeka, his team plays football very beautifully.

Which players do we look at?

I know most of them because I worked with many at the Dinamo school. With Pavicic (10), Muric, Halilovic, captain Andrijasevic … They are quarry players and they have quality. The others are also good players, like Kulenovic, the forward, but Real are favorites.

What about the stadium?

They want to change it, but they have trouble building in the area. In a small but good stadium, where the fans press to win the games.

The 3,000 will be noticed.

Of course, of course. On the last day, people have already entered and the players feel the support of the fans. If the Real is not concentrated, the Rijeka can give him a good scare and have problems. In Europe no game is easy, any team is physically well prepared.

How do you work in Croatian football?

When I was at Istra I always told them that Alavés (owner of 85% of the club) underestimated Croatian football. The league is not as bad as people think. Every year it goes up in quality and quantity and makes good players. Although the best Croatian players play outside the country, when they are 21 they go abroad to improve