Joey Didulica has two countries to cheer on this World Cup. The former goalkeeper of Ajax, who lives in Australia, is for Croatia and the Dutch national team. ‘The Netherlands is the birthplace of my three children Angelina, Luca and Nicolas. They are very proud of that,’ he says in an interview with Ajax.nl.
When Didulica played for Ajax, the Croatian national coach came to Amsterdam to talk to him and Zlatan Ibrahimovic about whether they might want to play for Croatia. ‘Zlatan had a Croatian mother, I had a Croatian father. In Australia (where Didulica was born, ed.) we were part of a Croatian enclave. It was a kind of mini-Croatia and the national anthem really made me feel like a Croat. Zlatan chose Sweden. If we had had him there we might have become world champions’, Didulica laughs.
When Didulica was officially A-international, he saw his status grow. ‘You enjoyed more respect as an international and you yourself had more faith and motivation,’ he says. Still, it was not easy for the keeper. He felt Croatian, but in the selection he felt like an outsider. ‘Actually, I didn’t feel at home anywhere. I think it is the same if a Turkish or Moroccan player were to play for the Netherlands or a Dutch Moroccan for Morocco.’
Support for Louis van Gaal
Didulica cheers for Croatia and the Dutch national team during the World Cup in Qatar. He would be proud if Louis van Gaal could hold up the cup. “He has won everything as a coach, except a world title with his country. Let him win it. I also like the Dutch game system 3-5-2 with a lot of movement; really attractive football’, says Didulica, who sees Croatia as a favourite. ‘Captain Modric is 37 years old, but can still play football so incredibly well. It’s a top team. They have not been a finalist at the previous World Cup for nothing. But I also give Brazil a good chance.’