World Cup 2018: Nikola Kalinic refuses Croatian silver medal after being sent home during group stages

The veteran forward was sent home from the tournament without playing a single minute in Russia

Saturday 21 July 2018 11:55
Zagreb celebrates Croatia equaliser in World Cup final

Croatia's Nikola Kalinic has refused a World Cup silver medal after being sent home in the group stages.

The AC Milan striker, once of Blackburn, was supposed to be vital back-up for Mario Mandzukic in Zlatko Dalic's squad but when he was called upon against Nigeria in the group stage at 2-0 up, he refused to come on.

Kalinic, 30, said he had a back injury and thus couldn't play but the coach and medical teams did not believe him and the veteran forward was sent home from the tournament.

"During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinic was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half," Dalic said at the time.

"However, he then stated that he wasn't ready to come on due to a back issue. The same thing happened during the Brazil friendly in England, as well as before the practice session on Sunday.

"I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision."

Even a man short and with two-hour knockout games and penalty shootouts being thrown at them, Croatia went without him and overcame England after extra-time to become the smallest-ever country to reach the World Cup final.

Winning the tournament proved a step too far though with France triumphing a week ago in Moscow with the Vetreni having to settle for second place.

Kalinic, however, had no interest in picking up a consolation prize after not playing a single minute in Russia.

Kalinic was sent home in the group stages 

"Thanks for the medal, but I did not play in Russia," the 30-year-old is quoted as telling Sportske Novosti.

Kalinic's future in Italy remains in doubt and despite returning for preseason in Milan a move to Atletico Madrid has been rumoured.

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