November 2009 hero Zlatko Dedić excited about Slovenia: Euro 2024 will be just the first highlight of an exceptional generation
Photo: Vid Ponikvar / Sportida
It was 18 November 2009, when Slovenia and Russia played in a packed Ljudski vrt. The match was anything but friendly. There was a lot at stake. A whole lot of it. There was… a big competition! Russia was in a better position after the opening 90 minutes of the extra qualification. It outplayed Slovenia in Moscow, but stepped off the gas in a moment of complete domination. Nejc Pečnik took advantage of this, halved the hosts’ lead and made sure that everything was still open before the return leg.
That famous outstretched right…
There were 18. On November 4, 2009, in a packed Ljudski vrt, Valter Birsa crossed from the right wing in front of goal in the 44th minute of the match. In the penalty area, the striker in the white jersey was sandwiched by two Russian defenders, but he ingeniously extended his right leg, redirected the ball towards the net and checked Igor Akinfeev. In the VIP stand, Slovenian President Rudi Türk jumped high in the air with joy, while Russian influencers, including Roman Abramovich, could not hide their sad disappointment.
A good hour later, Slovenia was in seventh heaven. Ecstatic. The hero, who cunningly extended his right hand, in the hands of his teammates. Zlatko Dedić on that 18th. on November 2009, he became a hero who will forever be written in golden letters in the history of Slovenian football.
Fourteen long years later, no one doubts that Slovenia will finally break the drought and finally make it back to the big competition. The question that many are asking is who will put on the heroic shoes that Zlatko Dedić so bravely stepped into in 2009…
“It doesn’t matter who. Just to get to Euro 2024,“, introducing
Zlatko Dedić, who is convinced that
the Slovenian national team
has a lot of quality individuals and that each of them can become a hero. “I am 100% confident that we will succeed. The boys have already proved that they can be trusted. We have a lot of quality. Ever since that game against Norway, you can see that the national team has finally come together, that it has matured. The players needed their time, but now they are really strong as a whole. They also play for top clubs and I am convinced that we have a generation of players who will not only play at Euro 2024, but also at the next big competitions. If someone can afford to have players like Sandi Lovrić, Miha Zajc and Žan Celar on the bench, who many would like to have in their ranks, then that says a lot. Above all, how much quality there is in this national team,“, Zlatko Dedić outlined the main reason why a place at Euro 2024 is a more than achievable and realistic goal.
Zlatko Dedić: “Every footballer’s dream”
Having been in this situation before, Zlatko Dedić is definitely someone who could give the boys a lot of advice before the game in Copenhagen. “I would only ask them to be the same as they have been every game so far. So were we. So stay focused and concentrated as much as possible. If this is the case… As I said, there is a lot of quality and it is no coincidence that we are first in the rankings. There is a reason why we are four points ahead of third place. Now we just need to finish the job and cross the finish line. The starting point is really good and we need to take advantage of it,“, said Zlatko Dedić while driving from Germany to Slovenia, where he will be actively following the last matches of Kek’s squad.
The retired striker, who left Slovenia at a young age for Italy, is confident ahead of the decisive 180 minutes of this year’s qualifiers that selector Matjaž Kek will be able to use his vast experience to steer the national team’s boat successfully past all the rocks that lie ahead.
“Matjaž Kek has been in a similar situation before. He knows exactly what is at stake, but he is also very clear about how to handle things. If he has got the national team to where it is now, then I really see no reason why it shouldn’t be over the finish line. We can have full confidence in the Selector and – clearly – in the players,” believes Zlatko Dedić, who also stresses that the role of the selector before such important matches is rather unimportant – at least as far as the motivation of the players is concerned.
“And I can tell you this first-hand: once you are so close to success, you don’t need any extra motivation. We were fully aware of what was at stake before the return leg against Russia. I doubt that there were any words at that time that could have fired us up further. It’s true that after the first game we were a bit unlucky, because it could have ended worse, but when we sensed our chance, we knew that we would be what we were. Fantastic. We have proved that we deserve to be World Champions. I have no doubt that the players will be like that again. Fantastic. That’s what you train for, that’s every footballer’s dream. Let them enjoy. Let them do their best. If they do, they will succeed,” said 39-year-old Zlatko Dedić.
A video that’s mostly in your head
And the goal he scored in Ljudski vrt? No doubt he watched it many times in the years that followed. “Ha, ha. Believe it or not – I didn’t. I have it in my head, that’s what it is, but I haven’t really watched it that much. Thankfully, every November, you journalists remind me of it (laughs). A few years ago, my children also liked to watch it on the internet, and I could relive the passion, the euphoria, the emotions a bit more intensely. Otherwise, I don’t like to look back, only forward. I am totally focused on the challenges in my life,” concluded Zlatko Dedić, who has been working with agent Elvis Bašanović for the last year in
Pro Transfer Agency
This text was automatically translated using AI.