Croatians ecstatic after soccer triumph
Good news finally after suffering through war years
By Tanya Ho
Toronto Star Staff Reporter
As the rugged Croatian team beat the Netherlands 2-1 to seize third
place during their first World Cup tournament, fellow Croatians beamed
with pride for their young country.
``I was holding a picture of the *** Mary in front of me during the
game. Each time they scored, I kissed her, then my wife, then my
kids,'' said 55-year-old Blago Nizic.
He intently watched the game at home before joining more than 400
fellow revellers for a Mississauga street party, on Queen St. near
The third place win was more than a soccer match for Croatians, who
gained their independence seven years ago.
``It was more of a recognition to the world of who we are. Even though
we're a small nation, we have a heart. And we're willing to fight for
what we believe in,'' said Tatjana Matasic, 29.
As drums were beat, cymbals clashed and whistles blown, the crowd
gathered with their arms around one another to sing the Croatian
national anthem and other Croatian folk songs for more than an hour.
Above the din, Sally Petrovic yelled her praise for the Croatian
soccer team. ``We love our boys. The whole world is proud,'' she said.
``After dodging bullets in a war, here we are, now playing in the
Davor Grabovac, 38, was in shock when Croatia crushed Germany 3-0 to
make it to the semifinals. After yesterday's win, he was ecstatic.
``When we beat Germany, I said it was unbelievable. But today was
doubly unbelievable,'' said Grabovac.
``With the war, we only had negative images. After today, I hope the
images are as positive as this one,'' said Grabovac, pointing to the
With a flag draped around her shoulders, Salvka Marasovic, 42,
immediately phoned her 18-year-old son, Allan, who is on a two-month
holiday in Croatia, after the game.
``He said, `Mom, I can't talk. We're all happy, we'll phone you
later,' '' said Marasovic, saying he was heading out the door to the
town of Split for a night of live music and dancing along the sea
``We're a young nation,'' said Grabovac.
``We're just full of pride today.''