Croatia captain Darijo Srna says he is ready to play against the Czech Republic at Euro 2016 on Friday following the death of his father.
Srna’s father passed away during Croatia’s opening 1-0 Group D win over Turkey on Sunday and the right back rejoined the squad after travelling home for Monday’s funeral.
“It is a very difficult moment for me and my family and after talking to them, I decided to return to France,” he told a news conference on Thursday ahead of the match in St Etienne.
“It was my father’s last wish. He invested everything he had in my career and I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for him.
“I have to be strong and shift my focus on what lies ahead. The travel won’t be a factor as I also flew to a friendly against Austria in May 2010 the day after my wedding.”
The Czechs are under pressure after losing their opening match to holders Spain 1-0 and Srna believes the situation could play into his team’s hands.
“They will have to come forward and that should give us room to operate,” he said.
“The Czechs have a very gifted player in Tomas Rosicky, who is their version of (versatile Croatia and Real Madrid playmaker) Luka Modric.
“They’re a disciplined and tactically proficient team but I think we are the better side.
“On paper, this Croatia team is better than the one that reached the 1998 World Cup semi-finals in France, but that doesn’t mean we will emulate their success.
“Football is unpredictable and there are no clear favourites here in what has been a very balanced tournament.”