Matjaž Kek secured Euro 2024 but credited the players: ‘The young lads have become men and restored faith in Slovenian football
Photo: Vid Ponikvar / Sportida
The generations have changed, but Matjaž Kek has done what he does best again. He has achieved a new great thing. In 2009 national team took Slovenia to the World Cup in South Africa. Fourteen years later, he completed the circle by qualifying for Euro 2024. Matjaž Kek is a giant of Slovenian football, but after this triumph, he preferred to divert the attention and credit to the players.
“We are happy, joyful and proud. I think deservedly so. Thank you Slovenia for this incredible positive energy in recent months. It has done a great thing for a generation already labelled as losers. The young men became men and restored faith in Slovenian football. The objective was clear from the draw. The boys have done their job, this will be a new impetus for Slovenian football. Thanks to the guys and the professional staff, you have to be lucky to find people like that in life. Thank you to the federation for believing in me for five years and giving me peace of mind, which is almost unbelievable in our football,“, Matjaž Kek beamed with happiness at the press conference after the victory over Kazakhstan.
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The experienced Maribor player recalled the moment when Benjamin Verbič scored a masterpiece just before the end of regulation time to finally take Slovenia to the European Championship in Germany.I knew then that it was over and that we were at the finish line. We couldn’t lose the match anymore. At that moment, it became clear what a burden had fallen on all of us. V 46. we scored from the first shot we took when we came out of the dressing room. We were aggressive enough in the first half not to let them do too much, we kept the pace high. We have to admit that Kazakhstan does not have 18 points in this group. We were hanging around for a while, emotions came into play, and that can be very dangerous. I’ve managed a few games that are decisive, and this is one of the tougher ones. From the first call in the morning until I arrived at Stožice, I had a good feeling, I felt like we couldn’t lose this game. Great, I’m happy for the boys. Because I have a little bit of ‘inata’ in me too. But the cover story of this historic result for Slovenian football should be these guys.”
Matjaž Kek: “Beni is just crazy enough”
After the great success of the Slovenian national team, which will play in a major competition for the fourth time in its history, Matjaž Kek also touched upon the President’s of the Football Association of Slovenia. Kek and Radenko Mijatović have been regular customers of the “critical headlines” over the years, so it’s no surprise that they jumped into each other’s arms after the victory over Kazakhstan and the successful completion of their trip to Germany.
“That was the biggest thank you I could give him. I know this business and I know what was going on behind the scenes. I was lucky that certain people changed. The expectations of the Slovenian public are always high. It will not be easy for my successors either, and not at all now. We had quality opponents in the group, we knelt twice and immediately there was fire in the roof. But we proved we were right and achieved our goal,“, stressed the former Rijeka coach, adding.You have replaced me and the President 500 times. But when we deserved it. Now we can all rejoice together. You can call it an easy group, but Slovenia is at the European Championships. I have not been so happy for a long time. I am glad that Slovenia has contributed its own little stone to the mosaic of Slovenian sporting successes in recent years. Positive energy, I believe, is a joy and a source of pride for everyone. Today Slovenia breathed as one again!”
Matjaž Kek couldn’t get past the fact that Benjamin Verbič, who came off the bench, scored the winning goal: “Beni is just crazy enough to score a goal like that. He is what he is, we have suffered what he has suffered, and he has suffered what we have suffered. But not about individuals. To see the joy of a captain who has so many big matches under his belt and a young man who has grown into a man through qualification. It’s like hitting the bullseye.”
This text was automatically translated using AI.