Monday, July 15, 2024
HomePremier LeagueReturning Slovenia star reveals Rice comments

Returning Slovenia star reveals Rice comments

Josip Ilicic has revealed he received respectful praise from England midfielder Declan Rice after making his return for Slovenia at Euro 2024.

Ilicic’s inclusion in the Slovenia squad ahead of the European Championship was one of the stories of the squad selections and the 36-year-old made his first competitive appearance for the national team in 955 days against England.

The forward, who saw his career halted due to mental health issues, had come close to retiring from football after struggling to deal with issues in part brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ilicic was in the midst of a successful period at Atalanta at that time, having scored 21 goals in all competitions in 2019-20, including four goals in a Champions League tie against Valencia.

After terminating his contract with Atalanta in 2022, Ilicic returned to football with former club NK Maribor and scored nine times in 36 appearances last season.

He was introduced for the final 16 minutes of the goalless draw with England on Tuesday that booked Slovenia’s place in the knockout rounds. Ilicic has revealed how Declan Rice was open in his respect for the Slovenian’s story after he entered the pitch.

“I am sincerely pleased [that people see me as an inspiration],” Ilicic said to Sky Italia.

 

“Even today when I entered the pitch a player complimented me and told me that he respects me a lot, this pleases me . The whole world knows my story.

“Who is the player? An Arsenal midfielder, you know well. Declan Rice, yes.”

Read – Harry Kane admits England ‘lacked a bit of magic’ against Slovenia

See more – Southgate jeers ‘causing an issue’ for England players at Euro 2024

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