CroatianSports.com caught up with 18 year-old Croatia U21/Liefering striker, Roko Šimić, this week for a Q&A over Instagram. Roko is the son of Croatian football legend, Dario Šimić, who is one of only nine Croatia players all-time to be capped 100 times. Roko has been on an absolute tear the past six matches; scoring 10 goals in that span and cementing a hat trick vs. the U21 Azerbaijan side earlier this week in Euro qualifying.
CroatianSports: You’ve scored 10 goals in your last six matches for club and country. Where is this goal scoring spree coming from?
Roko Šimić: Thanks to my coaches and staff from my childhood. They made me the goalscorer that I am, but I’m not done yet. I’m only at the beginning.
CroatianSports: Your dad, Dario Šimić, is a Croatian football legend and has been capped by the Vatreni 100 times. What has he taught you growing up in becoming the great player you are so far in your career?
Roko Šimić: To always play with heart! My father has always been here to help me everyday with something new. But it wouldn’t be fair if I shared that information (family secrets) with you right now. 🙂
CroatianSports: Who was your football idol growing up? What are you most looking forward to in your football career?
Roko Šimić: My dad was always my idol from when I was young. My dream is to play for the Croatian national team and I hope one day that dream will come true.
CroatianSports: Who do you play well with most on the U21 team? Why?
Roko Šimić: Lukas Kačavenda. We’ve been friends since we were little kids. (Kačavenda is 18 years old and currently plays midfield for Lokomotiva Zagreb. He has scored three goals in 19 matches this season)
CroatianSports.com: What is your favorite club outside of Croatia?
Roko Šimić: AC Milan! (Roko was born in Milan, Italy in 2003 while his father, Dario, was playing for AC Milan)
CroatianSports.com: Many Croatians around the world – including us – would like you to start as striker for the Malta World Cup qualifier next month in Split. How does that make you feel? What would it mean to be capped by the senior side at age 18?
Roko Šimić: It would be such a great feeling to play for Croatia. I would be so happy. I will keep working hard. If I deserve it, they (the HNS) will recognize it. Like I said, I’m ready!
Does salzburg own him?
So what’s next hopefully a call up to the A league Austria?
Yes, and they’ll likely have him in the team next season.
They did the same thing with Sučić.
I agree. It also wouldn’t surprise me if bigger clubs have had their interest sparked for the not so distant future. Many people I suspect will be watching to see how Simic finshes this season.
No doubt that Simic is creating a lot of discussion, and surely doors will be opening up for him at higher levels sooner than later. Particularly if he keep it up.
It’s only Malta and we have no strikers. I’d have zero hesitancy throwing him into that game and capping him.
Roko Šimić goal once again. That’s 11 in his last 7.
Well see what happens just hopew no injurys accure and we go 100% in the 2 games and go to katar. Cantvwait for the game v russia hope no bura or rain its 3pm local time so its gonna feel weird but if we win a big festa in split and around ajmo vatreni
stanisic just signed a bayern extension until 2025
I like that he has confidence i have always avocated to call young guys and lose with yourh rather than old has beens or never wases. Growing pains.
I just think it isnt right time to call him. Maybe im wrong if we get to katar and he plays well why not but Dalic really pisses ne off with not risking and having a set 11. That what you need to build a team 11 to 14 players you count on.
Sosa when healthy should be the lb
Gvardiol when healthy CB
Second Cb Cc Pongracic Uremovic
Thanks for 2018 but vida lovren i am dosadan are not bonnucci chiellini please stop Dalic with this.
Rb juranovic over stanisic at moment.
Agin Knowing Dalic his lineup vs malta will be
Livakovic Juranovic Gvardiol Cc Sosa Kovacic Pasalic Vlasic Kramaric Brekalo Ivanusec.
Vs russsia Livakovic Vrsaljko Vida Lovren Barisic Modric Broz Kova Vlasic Krama Perisic.
I’d be full on shocked if Vrsaljko or Barisic see the pitch vs. Russia.
I think LB is between Sosa and Gvardiol, with Sosa having the inside track since we want to make Gvardiol a CB. At RB, I think its Juranovic’s spot to lose. Stanisic had some shaky moments the last two games, so Juranovic still gets the nod but post WC, I see Stanisic taking over if he continues to develop. Vrsaljko, while I love him, is on the periphery given his lack of form and playing time in La Liga.
It will for sure be Sosa, Gvardiol, Vida and Juranović.
hoping Pongrancic continues to get PT for Borussia and makes his way in there for Vida
Super high hopes for Kačavenda. One of our most promising youngsters. He’s extremely composed on the ball, and still very young. Has great vision and finishing too. Already a big leader for Lokomotiva. I can see him becoming an excellent player
Nice to see (yet another) central midfielder doing well for us, lol.
Funny thing is, that many see Brkljača as better than him (who is one year younger and plays the same position).
I feel sorry for central midfield prospects in Croatia. Always gotta look over your shoulder, ha ha.
Maybe he is not super impactful right now who knows
But Qatar is over a year away
Lots of development for him in a year
Funny how he mentions kacavenda
I like that kid from what I saw
I know the boys reported on him already but i think he may have the goods
Cro 14, markus, Vuk
How do you guys think kacavenda could potentially fit in for the repka one day?
Ok so let’s say we want to call Roko Simic up to the senior team next time around and let’s say we will call up 25 guys this time like September instead of 24 (although I feel it might be 23 or 24 again). Who is going to miss out to get him on the squad?
So the 3 keepers will likely be Livakovic, Ivusic, and Grbic again.
Defenders will likely not change much. Vida, Lovren, Barisic, Sosa, Gvardiol, Juranovic, Stanisic, Caleta-Car, Uremovic/Skoric/Pongracic for the last spot.
Midfielders would likely be the same. Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic, Vlasic, Pasalic, Ivanusec, Jakic, and we’ll throw Sucic on there even though I think they’ll just have him play with the U21s if there are no injuries or suspensions. Does Majer make the squad? Someone else?
So now we have 19 guys and 20 if you count Sucic. So we’ve got 4 to 6 spots left spots left for the forwards depending on how many players are called up.
Perisic and Kramaric are shoe ins if they aren’t hurt. So then there we have Brekalo, Orsic, Budimir, Livaja, Petkovic, Colak, and Simic as the options for the last few spots. And this is even assuming Rebic and Dalic don’t reconcile before November. If they do, Rebic 100% takes one of the spots. And what if someone random like Marko Pjaca really hits his strides in the next few weeks?
I’m not saying I don’t even want Roko Simic called up, but who’s going to miss out? I’d say if Sucic is with the U21s and everyone is healthy and available our 6 forwards could be Perisic, Kramaric, Rebic, Brekalo, Orsic, and Simic. So Budimir, Livaja, Petkovic, Colak, etc. all miss out. Will Simic have more of an impact than all of those guys this early? I’m not so sure. I honestly just don’t think Dalic will trust Simic in these crucial games. If he keeps scoring he will likely play in the next international break after that in some friendlies or something. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Just cut Lovren. He’s a liability anyway.
He’s only on the team because he started at Russia 2018. He’s been nailed to the bench at his club since the summer, and will likely not be featuring in many games for them this year (if at all). Zenit will probably cut him loose in the summer.
Not sure why Vrsaljko would be cut from the team, but Lovren gets to stay on (and Vrsaljko plays in a bigger position of need).
If Vrsaljko is cut, then cut Lovren for the same reasons.
What’s going to happen is this…
Lovren will continue to be a guaranteed callup for us, and play regularly for us (despite not playing at his club).
About a year will pass, and then he will be cut from Zenit in the summer (and he’ll sign with some garbage club)…or worse, he won’t find any suitors and remain an unused bench piece at Zenit.
Only THEN, will Dalic think of not playing Lovren (after everyone knew that he should have been a fringe callup at best over a year ago).
He will try and make a last minute change, upsetting Lovren, and he’ll probably try to integrate a brand new starter into the team (like Pongracic) at the last minute, right before the tournament (like he did with Gvardiol)…instead of making this move earlier in order to give time for that new player to build chemistry.
World Cup for 2022 should be following. Based on 24 man squad.
Def CM Midfield
If 23 then I leave out Vlasic as all the wingers listed are better wingers all the strikers are better strikers and all the midfielders are better midfielders. I have no idea why he’s starting as much as he is he was a no show in euro and he’s been a no show in qualifying this year. I don’t hate on the guy but I truly believe he isn’t a top tier player and he won’t last long in England.
I like this squad.
But I don’t get the hate for Vlasic. He scores goals. He scored at the Euros for us, and he scored the winner against Slovakia last game (despite it being called back by VAR).
He’s had an off-year, but still managed to score a couple of goals in qualifying this round…and he did have a great scoring rate in the previous Euro qualifying too.
He’s got an ‘ugly game’, but it doesn’t mean that he sucks. He’s still very effective.
He is better than Pasalic as a starter in the CAM role (and should have started over him in the last game…especially on that rainy pitch). Pasalic is better off the bench instead.
But playing either player at RW is pointless as neither tend to do well on the wing (Dalic needs to stop doing this).
No hate just my opinion, based on recent form for club and country pasalic is better. Also without statistics pasalic is better with being involved in the play. Honestly Vlasic isn’t anything except a striker. He’s not a winger and he isn’t a true CAM. He scored in Russia cause Russia sucks pretty much HNL that’s why players like Corluka and lovren go there before they retire it’s super slow.
Hey Kvartuc, what happened with you and Hezonja? I must have missed it.
The worst Croatian I’ve ever met. Definitely doesn’t live the ZDS lifestyle.
Actually there is hunch phenomenon with Croats
I have a slight one. It has to do with the Dinaric body Type.
I got one ☝️
It’s from a lifetime of gambling at the Automat Klubs, playing Briškula and Šijavica.
You should have asked Roko if he was approached by the Italian FA to play for Italy (since he was born in Milan).
That would trigger some flags for the HNS, and it would fast forward his callup.
They have no idea guaranteed. This site does a better job info gathering
Really, Zidane has a hunchback and it never stopped him being world class.
Crazy thing about this kid is, he could be a senior in high school in America right now. That’s how young he is. You don’t see this kind of maturity, consistency, and work ethic at such a young age everyday.
Credits his father. Boom. Says he’s ready for the A repka. Boom. Could we have asked for anything better? Not at all.
Sučić, Šimić, Gvardiol, Sosa, Stanišić… the list goes on. All very young and ready to compete for our national team. The future is bright!
This is what I’m going to share with all of you right now about Simic that you will never see on a football pitch. Croatia U14 and Markus do an INCREDIBLE job of keeping on our U21 players throughout the year. They also stay engaged with these players on Instagram – because that’s the how the kids roll these days.
We regularly chat with all these players after good games etc etc. We’ve talked to Gvardiol who has promised us an interview and Q&A. We’ve talked with Sucic. Same thing. Both of them say “Moze, Moze” and then ghost us.
Within 4 hours of engaging with Simic, he said yes to the questions and answered all of them. He didn’t go ask Tata first. He didn’t ask his agent. He answered them proudly and I think that says ALOT about a kid that just turned 18.
There’s an element of fearlessness in him and I like that. Especially in a striker.
I have talked to almost every important Croatian athlete of the past decade. You don’t get that attitude until you get to Modric, Simunic, Rakitic, Bogdanovic status. They just tell you, “Go ahead. Ask away.”
I have a good feeling about this kid just based on that.
By the way….Mario Hezonja still my #1 bitchass out of all Croatian athletes. I needed to say that.
Have a nice day everyone! Ante loves you! 🙂
I love you too Ante🥰🥰🥰🥰
Here’s our issue with HNS. We continue to overplay and overwork our vets. That was our issue after the 2016-2018 run. We had players at they’re peak and we’re doing well. Now, lots have retired, aged, and overall performance wise, it’s been poor. Teams like France, Portugal, Spain and Italy win trophies because they integrate the youth at a young age and get them familiar. Once Spain was aging after the 2014 World Cup downfall. It didn’t take long to build up the youth and start from scratch. Now look, arguably one of the best teams in Europe as of now. This is key to getting to top level at major tournaments. It’s cycling the vets out for the youth and now is the time for us. Besides Modric, Perisic, and Kovacic and maybe a few others. Not too many players have fuel left in the tank over the age of 25. I can’t emphasize enough how much Dalic is hurting us. It’s also goalkeeping but him not realizing his mentality is old school and won’t work against today’s game. Get youth in quick. We have the system but it’s not being applied. I see so many potential goaltenders, defence and mids that will build this team again from 2022-2026. What we lack is consistent and a starting goalie, better wingbacks, and strikers. We also tend to overwhelm our vets by overplaying them. Also our coaching and management needs updating. It’s unfortunate stubborn Dalic can’t come to his senses.
He’s “loyal” to his players.
Croatian coaches tend to be this way. Probably a cultural thing, where they get too personal with their relationships and it becomes hard to make a chance when you have to.
Guys like Rakitic, Mandzo, Corluka, Badelj and (possibly) Subasic would still be on the team if they didn’t retire.
Corluka was handed the assistant coaching position, with zero experience. Learning on the job at our expense.
Lovren, Vida, Perisic, Modric will be off the team when they say so (and not when Dalic says so)…and a couple of them will probably be given coaching positions afterward (despite having no experience).
Perisic and Modric are the only players above 30 who should be on the team right now, and even then, we need to start phasing them out. Try having the come off at the 60th minute, and have their younger replacements take a bigger role with the team.
We’re still way too heavily dependent on them both, but we do have guys like Kovacic who look ready to take on a bigger role (without the vets on the field holding their hand).
This is a very tough and risky situation if you ask me. On one hand, Roko is scoring goals and in good form. One the other hand he’s playing at a lower level and its difficult to gauge whether he’d find the same goals playing in top competition.
I do think our situation makes this ever more complicated. We have attackers that really aren’t a true striker and we are suffering because we keep having to improvise and find secondary scoring….so is this a situation where we take the risk? The timing really does suck. It may have been better to include Roko into this last cycle of games but at the same time, there are many variables that would make one wonder if its the right decision.
I’m a bit perplexed about this. Things have recently happened very fast for this kids career. Maybe it would be good to bring him aboard but who really knows if he’s ready for this?
Just feels like it’s way too early for this.
I don’t have a problem with him being called up, but I wouldn’t expect to have him play a serious role in a deciding qualifier.
I would rather continue with Kramaric and have Rebic come off the bench.
We need 6 points in these two final games, and everyone (except Dalic) knows that we have the starting eleven already that can beat Malta and Russia.
I would rather stick with our most in-form players who have been playing great for club and country (and we should be fine).
This means that you gotta play Sosa, Gvardiol, Juranovic, Kovacic, Modric, Broz, Perisic, Kramaric…with the two wildcard picks being who you decide to play at RW and the other CB position (but there are plenty to choose from here).
It’s not hard. Had we played with our best eleven in all of these qualifiers, we would not have lost 5 points to Slovenia and Slovakia. Probably win in Russia too. But here we are.
Anyway, I’d try Roko out in the next round of friendlies for sure, and add him to one of our final spots for the World Cup squad too.
You don’t have to start Roko but he needs to be called up asap; this kid is 2 to 1 shots to scoring where Kramaric and Rebic are 10 to 1 at best. We need someone to capitalize on all our wasted chances because it’s costing us by not finishing
Can’t remember ever having an 18 year old striker to get excited about
The kid has a pretty bad hunchback.
Anyone think this could cause problems in the future?
It could but I think he is a tall lanky kid probably spending too much time on his phone
Once he starts to fill in some and strength train some more this may help
He will probably always be the lanky type but he looks like he fights.
He does sort of remind us of mandzo type
Too early to tell but may he just continue to develop and God willing light up every where he plays
He is the type we need
I like what I see of his attitude and fighting swagger on the pitch
I’m sure his name has helped but you can see he is hustling and not just using his name
Many other prospects have let the “it” kid get to their head
If anyone could have done it could have been him with his dads name
Good luck to you, young man!
Croatia needs you
If you watch Haaland run you’ll see the same thing. Just his running style. In photos he stands like a normal person.
Milan lucic has a hump back, didnt stop his career
The hunchback is due to his Hercegov upbringing always looking at the ground hoping to come across loose change.
Very prevalent in that region of the world.
Ha! Looking down at his sandale to make sure his čarape aren’t falling down
Or if they are still white
Tan socks with sandals is the colour of choice
On a serious note, I haven’t seen enough of Simic yet.
Since he wasn’t some prolific scorer before this season, I am curious as to why he’s suddenly scoring so regularly for both Liefering and the U21s.
Since these two competitions (U21s and Austrian 2nd division) are almost entirely comprised of youth players, I am not going to get my hopes up too high.
But it is a good sign that he’s doing well in BOTH of these competitions (on two separate teams with two different groups of players around him) and the fact that he just recently turned 18 (making him one of the youngest players in both competitions).
From what I’ve seen, I think at the very least he can provide good pressing. He has young legs, and looks exactly like Mandzo when he runs the field. He’s also very tall and can challenge for balls in the air.
I think that even if he doesn’t become a prolific goalscorer, he can have a poor man’s Mandzo type career where he can tirelessly run, press the opposition, and get his head on a few balls.
If he can add goals at an excellent rate, then he would become the ideal striker for this team…being fed by a creative midfield and sent in crosses by our talented flank players.
It’s very early so far, but it’s great that we have an extremely young player who seems to be the perfect physical specimen in what we need in a striker.
Just hoping that he continues to play and progress and continue to score goals…or else he will just become a Petar Musa type of prospect (great physical traits, but struggles to score regularly).
He can get called up when the veterans on our senior team decide to retire.
No new callups until the old guard says so!
I am not comfortable with starting Simic at the moment. I can envision Simic getting familiar with the level of play with the national team relatively quick. Furthermore, our senior players will eventually get to know him and intuitively know where Simic will be, and that’s when the magic will start to happen.
Right now I think we need to focus on guarateeing a win asap against Malta. Once we have a comfortable lead, then maybe start getting Simic”s feet wet.
No doubt that a tie against Croatia for Malta is something to be proud of.
Could Malta have the game of their life, get some lucky bounces, a bad call in their favour, and in the end destroy our chances of first place in the group and qualification?
If we experiment too much, the answer for me is Yes.
agree. Simic seems to have great potential, but he’s scoring against 20 year old boys in Azerbaijan, and 2nd division Austrian defenders. Yes, maybe Malta doesn’t offer much better than that, but I think it’s too soon.
Ivusic, Sosa, Stanisic, Josko, Pongracic, Vlasic, Jakic, Ivanseuc, Sucic, Simic and Brekalo. All starters for Malta. Wanna see some more young guns
I like how he doesn’t just go for a dive. Fights through players grabbing his shirt.
Roko looks hungry and aggressive
Looks comfortable in the six yard box too
Scoring is a habit and hope he keeps it up
Cap Šimić at Malta.
Let him come on in the second half.
Need to start Ante Rebić and let him run wild on Malta in the first half.
Then take him off to rest his legs for Russia.
I’m all for capping Šimić and giving him some game time vs. Malta.
I think Rebić needs to hash things out with Zlatko before getting back on the squad. By no means am I #TeamDalić but at the end of the day, he’s going to have to have a sit down with him, hash out what needs to be hashed out and then move on with the relationship. I doubt Dalić calls him up prior to then.