“I feel like the most privileged man in football for everything it has given me,” Ivan Rakitic told FIFA.com.
For getting the opportunity to form a remarkable midfield partnership with Luka Modric and compose behind Lionel Messi. For earning an honour previously bestowed only on the enshrined Diego Maradona. For captaining Sevilla to UEFA Europa League glory. For scoring the opener for Barcelona in a triumphant UEFA Champions League final. For helping Croatia reach the FIFA World Cup™ Final. Oh, and for scoring himself a wife – an achievement that proved way more difficult than anything he achieved on a football pitch.
We caught up with Rakitic to discuss all of that, his return to Sevilla and recent decision to retire from international football.
FIFA.com: Ivan you recently moved back to Sevilla. What’s the passion for football like in Seville?
Ivan Rakitic: Really amazing, it’s probably the craziest city in Spain for football passion. The people really, really love football. We have Sevilla and Betis, two huge rivals, both in the Primera Division. The two stadiums are only five minutes apart. The whole city is really crazy about football and it’s a really special atmosphere.
Seville is special to you on a family level too…
(laughs) It’s an amazing story. The first day I arrived in Seville it was late. I had a medical the next morning, many things to sort out. I was nervous so I asked my brother to come for a drink with me. There was a girl working at the bar. As soon as I saw her I knew I wanted to marry her. There was a big European club ringing my brother, trying to send a plane to pick me up from Seville to sign for them, but I said, ‘I’ve already given my word to Sevilla – I’m going to sign for this club and I’m going to marry that girl.’ That was easy for me – I was sure she had to be my wife. But it was so difficult to get her to go out with me, because she rejected me a lot. I had to work really hard – I always try to work hard on the pitch, but this was much, much harder (laughs) – but after seven months she finally agreed to go to lunch. Now we’ve been together nine-and-a-half years.
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