Sports Nicknames - Vatreni

The Croatian national team is one of the more successful smaller nationals in international football. Particularly from 2017 to now, they have played with a certain style and pragmatism that got them to their first ever World Cup final in 2018, followed by a third place finish in 2022.

Luka Modric - Illustration - Croatia national team.
-- Luka Modric

Officially admitted to FIFA competitions in 1992, the Croatian team was formed after they voted for independence from Yugoslavia. They found almost immediate success, as they advanced to the quarterfinals at Euro 96 and the semi finals at the 1998 World Cup. They then won the third place match, which would only be surpassed 20 years later.

Robert Prosinecki - Illustration - Croatia national team.
-- Robert Prosinecki

Croatia's team has a number of nicknames associated with them. One of them is Vatreni (Blazers), while another is Kockasti (The Chequered Ones, in reference to their classic home kit). The Italians have their own nickname for them: Il furioso incendio (The Blazing Fire).

Mario Mandzukic - Illustration
-- Mario Mandzukic

When Croatia did make it to the 2018 World Cup final, they became the second-smallest country by population to make it to such a stage of the competition. The squad that did this was made up of some top names in European teams, including Real Madrid's Luka Modric, Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic and Juventus' Mario Mandzukic. It was seen as their first "golden generation" since that first squad in the 90s.

Croatian national team legend - Vatreni - Davor Suker
-- Davor Suker

It's impossible to say how this generation of players would have done upon reaching the European Championships of 2020 after it was postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if they could surpass or even match the accomplishments of that previous generation, these Vatreni would surely be remembered as the best one.

Zvonimir Boban - Illustration.
-- Zvonimir Boban

Mateo Kovacic - Illustration.
-- Mateo Kovacic


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