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Hero's Welcome for Mateo Kovačić, a Member of the Triumphant Croatian National Soccer Team, at the Parish of St. Anthony of Padua in Sesvetska Sela

Zagreb (IKA )

Zagreb, (IKA) – Mateo Kovačić, a member of Croatia’s national soccer team that won the silver trophy at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, received a hero’s welcome from the Parish of St. Anthony of Padua in Sesvetska Sela, on Tuesday, July 17, which began with a celebration of the Mass. Kovačić said to Croatian Catholic Radio that he had not expected anything different. “This is my parish. This is where I go to Mass and hang out with people. Everyone is here. I am grateful and proud for such a welcome and will try to continue to make them proud of me.” It was in this parish that Kovačić grew up, met his wife and built memories.
The statements from the members of Croatia’s national soccer team after games have always expressed thanks to God, which Kovačić says is not unusual because Croats always say “thank God” when things are good. He pointed out that all the team members are believers and the head coach often says: “There is nothing more beautiful because God has given us everything.”
“These successes are of lesser importance. It’s important that we are alive and well, and for the rest, if it comes—thank God. We are proud that we are believers, that we are Catholics. God has granted us to become the vice champions of he world, and to enjoy it,” said Kovačić.
Kovačić also spoke about the welcome the team received in Zagreb. “The way people welcomed us was crazy. I never experienced anything like it. God willing, we will experience it again, and we will give our all to repeat it,” he said, and concluded: “We stick together, we love each other and embrace each other. Love is the most important thing. God gave us this tournament to uplift the Croatian nation and I hope that our feeling of unity will last.”
According to the Catholic News Agency, Mateo Kovačić dedicated the silver medal he won at the World Cup to St. Anthony of Padua. He was wearing the banner of the Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua when he received his silver medal in Russia.