As Croatia prepare for their opening game of Euro 2012 against Ireland, captain Darijo Srna has paid tribute to outgoing coach Slaven Bilic.
The 43-year-old will take charge of his 60th game in charge of the national side against Republic of Ireland on Sunday, as the Croats look to get their Euro 2012 campaign off to a good start.
Bilic has been in charge of the Croatian national team since July 2006, but has announced that he will leave at the end of the tournament to take up a new role at Lokomotiv Moscow.
And Srna spoke of the fantastic rapport the coach has with his squad.
“From his very first training session, he showed that he has something that some other trainers don’t have – a relationship with the players,” the Shakhtar defender told reporters.
“He is open, he shows how much he loves the players, how much he trusts them and how much he really supports them.”
That image of Bilic is a far cry from the one he had as a player: a no-nonsense central defender, who plied his trade with Hadjuk Split, West Ham United and Everton and made 44 appearances for his country.
And Srna admitted the difference between the two versions of Bilic were in stark contrast, and praised his coach for the way he has continually developed throughout his reign.
“There is a big difference in ability if you compare Bilic now to how he was 10 years ago,” he said.
“He learns something new every day. He is a very young coach and he has a bright future in management ahead of him.”
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