And while all those of a Scottish variety will be hoping we beat them today we’ll always stay friends Croatia.
Scotland’s Euro 2020 hopes hang on them winning against the Balkan belters.
In 2018 Croatia’s international dreams were far higher.
As they prepared for the World Cup Final against France.
The Croatians who I’d got to know and love while living in Ireland.
As a guest of their embassy and Croatia Tours were filled with excitement.
And good Dalmatian wine.
All of which I helped them imbibe on the morning of the World Cup Final.
Before, and this is to my eternal shame, I switched camps and saw the game and celebrated with the French at their embassy.
The World Cup Final
And this allows me to say that I watched France win the World Cup Final in France.
The embassy land always belonging to that country.
And the Croatians being the good eggs that they are they didn’t hold any of that against me.
And put out the red and white checked carpet for me when I went on another different type of pilgrimage, to Medjugorje.
And yes it is, but try telling that to the Croat-daft residents of that village for whom the only religion to rival Catholicism is football.
The Gods of Medge
Captain Luka Modric is something of a God in Medge with tops with his name emblazoned on them hanging from every shop.
And it is a familiar aspect of other countries I have visited for religion and football to coexist in such harmony.
I saw it first hand in Rome where Francisco Totti is as omnipresent as the Pope.
And again in Fatima in Portugal where Cristiano Ronaldo is a deity.
I witnessed just how passionate the Croatians are about their football when we were taking downtime from church in Medge.
And we were watching the Champions League in the Irish Centre.
Which for ‘Elvis’ the name our group had given the owner meant his beloved Dynamo Zagreb.
Apologies again for not memorising the club song he blasted out on the speakers before the game.
So that’s twice I haven’t taken up the Croatians’ clarion call.
And national identity and an accident of birth means I again will have to make my apologies when Scotland eliminate Croatia.
I hope though we’ll always stay friends Croatia.