Ivan Rakitic reveals source of Croatia's strength
“I think there can be no better feeling than being a Croat,” Rakitic said. “To reach such a final is the fulfilment of the best possible dream. The best feeling is to be a Croat and this is the source of all our strength.
“You need only to look at the footage from Croatia to see what’s been going on over the past month - the joy felt by the people there. Joy, togetherness unity, pride. I think all of us deserve this. It doesn’t just concern the 23 players, coaching staff and backroom staff, but the 4.5m people back home. If there was a stadium big enough for 4.5m people, it would be full.
“I’m not trying to say these feelings are superior to the ones the French have for France or Russians have for Russia. We have this special bond. When you put the sacred Croatia shirt on you become another person. We have this togetherness, this unique unity - not just in football. We are exceptional in tennis, handball, basketball, water polo. If we were to hold a tournament in ping pong all of us would be rooting for that single player. This is something all of us have in us, and it will be in us to the very last moment.”