Rakitic: If you don’t enjoy football in Barcelona, you don’t enjoy football
Being a Barcelona player since 2014, Ivan Rakitic praised the efforts of the Catalan club to approach the epitome of real football.
The 29-year-old midfielder recalled his fist moments in the Camp Nou and he broke down the Blaugrana’s style of football which hooked him from the beginning.
“It is every boy’s dream to play for Barcelona,” he wrote in The Players Tribune.
“I remember when I arrived for the presentation, I walked into the dressing room, and they had my boots waiting for me at my locker, and I got goosebumps looking at the boots.
“I was thinking, These are not just boots. These are my Barcelona boots.
“There is a rhythm to the way we try to play – it’s like a big machine. When you hit the button, all the pieces inside already know what to do. It’s one thing to see it on TV, or to play against Barcelona, and it’s another thing to experience it for yourself.
“If you don’t enjoy football in Barcelona, then you don’t enjoy football.”
The Croatia international also remembered his first day in Sevilla, when me dismissed an offer from abroad to stay with the Andalusian team.
“My older brother Dejan was traveling with me, and when we got to the hotel, we had a late dinner with some people from the club,” recalled Rakitic.
“For whatever reason, I was a little bit nervous after dinner, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. So I said to my brother, “Let’s have a drink and then we’ll go to bed.”
“We didn’t have a formal agreement with Sevilla yet. It was a big step for me to move to Spain, and maybe a big risk. New country, new language. I didn’t know anyone there. The team who wanted to send the plane for me – let’s just say it might have been an easier adjustment.
“So my brother said, “What do you want to do?”
“I told him, “Well … I said ‘Yes’ to the president of Sevilla already, and my words are worth more than a signature.”
“He said, “Alright, I’ll tell them’.”
Finally, Rakitic couldn’t avoid mentioning his childhood hero, Robert Prosinecki and explain how the Croatian legend influenced his football dreams as a boy.
“It was also a very proud moment for me because of my history,” he noted. “My parents are from Croatia, but they immigrated to Switzerland just before the start of the Bosnian War because they could feel the danger coming. I grew up in Switzerland idolizing Robert Prosinecki.
“He was a hero for Croatians, and he played for Real Madrid, Barcelona and Seville when I was a kid. I was lucky to have a very normal life with my friends in Switzerland and be untouched by the war.
“But for a long time, it was impossible for my family to go back to Croatia. I think the first time we went back was when I was seven years old, just to see my grandparents.
“So for me, going to school in Switzerland surrounded by Swiss friends, my Croatian identity was tied to Prosinecki and the national team.”