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June 19, 2014 - Brett Van Waus
There’s a certain rush of excitement and passion that fills my body in the summer (almost) every four years.
It’s the world’s tournament— the World Cup.
I bleed bijelo i crvena, red and white.
I have to root for Croatia in the World Cup because not only am I half Croatian, I was brought up on it.
My first real memory of the World Cup was in 1998, the theme song was Ricky Martin’s Cup of Life.
Croatia made it to the semi-finals. It was huge. My dad was going crazy, Croatia was going crazy, it was insane.
After a hard fight, France advanced and won, 2-1.
In 2006 my sister and I went to Croatia for the first time by ourselves. We flew through Munich, the site of the World Cup. In the airport we saw soccer teams. We flew Lufthansa, first class and got World Cup brackets, soccer accessories and were able to watch games on the plane, that wasn’t the best part.
The first night when we got to Croatia we stayed in Zagreb, the Capital city. I was 15-years-old.
My sister and I went to a cafe below my grandma’s apartment to watch Croatia play Australia.
The city was filled with excitement and die-hard Croatia fans, it was like nothing I’ve seen before.
The entire street was closed, everyone had a checkered shirt on, every car had a flag on it, people’s faces were painted with red and white checkers and every channel of every TV had THE game on it.
When the national anthem played everyone sang along.
It was game time.
Before Darijo Srna, my favorite player, scored that first goal, we heard it before seeing it on TV. People were yelling, singing, cheering, screaming, hugging, kissing and fireworks filled the sky.
It was getting late so my grandma let us finish watching the game inside.
When Niko Kovac scored the second goal we watched the city erupt with excitement from the balcony.
We tied, 2-2.
Croatia didn’t get to the semi-finals like in 2006, however the excitement was still present.
Italy and France were the final two. At this point, my sister, many of our friends and I were at our summer house on a small island in the Adriatic Sea. We were playing fusbol at a cafe, then stopped mid-game to watch the penalty kicks that would determine the winner of the World Cup. I was rooting for Italy, being that we are practically neighbors on the seaside.
I swear you could hear the Italians cheering from across the sea.
It was a beautiful game.
Wednesday’s game against Cameroon was the first game I watched this year.
It was magnificent. We won 4-0, a well deserved win after we lost to Brazil due to penalty kicks.
After every goal my dad called me yelling GOAL! He was in a great mood, we all were. My entire Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds were filled with red and white and Croatia fans from near and far.
We play Mexico next.
With Mario Manzukic, Luka Modric, Srna, Vedran Corkula and Ivica Olic, my top five favorites, Mexico will have to fight for this W.
No matter what your team is, take part in the excitement. It is a great feeling to root for your country.
Ajmo Hrvatska, go Croatia!