Croatia national under-21 football team

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Croatia Under-21
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Mladi Vatreni ("The Young Blazers")
Association Croatian Football Federation
Head coach Nenad Gračan
Most caps Tomislav Bušić (29)
Top scorer Tomislav Bušić (13)
First colours
Second colours
First international
Croatia Croatia 0-0 Italy Italy
13 February 1993, friendly
Biggest win
Croatia Croatia 6-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina
Osijek, 5 September 1997, qual. EC
Biggest defeat
Spain Spain 6-0 Croatia Croatia
Alicante, 10 September 2012, qual. EC
UEFA U-21 Championship
Appearances 2 (First in 2000)
Best result Group stage 2000 & 2004

The Croatia national under-21 football team, also known as Croatia under-21(s) or Croatia U21(s) is a youth association football national team which represents Croatia at this age level and is a feeder team for the Croatia national football team.

This team is for Croatian players aged 21 or under at the start of a two-year European Under-21 Football Championship campaign, so players can be, and often are, up to 23 years old. Also in existence are teams for Under-20s (for non-UEFA tournaments), Under-19s and Under 17s. As long as they are eligible, players can play at any level, making it possible to play for the U21s, senior side and again for the U21s, as Ivan Rakitić and Nikola Kalinić have done recently. It is also possible to play for one country at youth level and another at senior level (providing the player is eligible). For example, Ivan Rakitić is a former Switzerland U21 player who later became a Croatia international.

The under-21 age category came into existence with the realignment of UEFA's youth competitions in 1976. The Croatia U21 team was formed following Croatia's independence from SFR Yugoslavia in 1991 and is controlled by the Croatian Football Federation (from 1976 to 1990 Croatian players played for Yugoslavia U21). A goalless draw in a friendly against Italy played on 13 February 1992 was Croatia U21s' first result.

Competition history[edit]

As a European U21 team, Croatia compete for the European U21 Championship, with the finals held every odd-numbered year, formerly even-numbered years. There is no U21 World Cup, although there is an U20 World Cup. Since the Croatian Football Federation was recognised by UEFA in June 1993, in the middle of the two-year European Championship cycle, Croatia U21s began their first competitive campaign in 1994, in which they tried to qualify for the 1996 finals. They eventually finished 4th in a six-team group, with 5 wins out of 10 games and 4 points behind group winners Italy.

They failed to qualify for the next tournament in 1998, but then managed to win their first qualification for the 2000 tournament. However, they finished bottom of a four-team group in the group stage, losing to Netherlands and Czech Republic and drawing with Spain.

In their next five campaigns Croatia U21 managed to qualify for the finals only one more time (for the 2004 finals), but again they failed to progress past the group stage. They came close to qualifying for the 2002 and 2006 tournaments, as they had reached the qualification playoff round, but did not progress further.

UEFA U-21 Championship record[edit]

UEFA U-21 Championship record UEFA U-21 Championship Qualification record Manager
Year Round Pld W D L GF GA GD Pld W D L GF GA GD
Spain 1996 Did not qualify 10 5 2 3 13 12 +1 Martin Novoselac
Romania 1998 8 4 0 4 13 9 +4 Ivo Šušak
Slovakia 2000 Group stage 3 0 1 2 4 6 −2 10 7 2 1 28 9 +19 Ivo Šušak
Switzerland 2002 Did not qualify 8 3 4 1 10 7 +3 Martin Novoselac
Germany 2004 Group stage 3 0 1 2 3 5 −2 8 4 2 2 11 5 +6 Martin Novoselac
Portugal 2006 Did not qualify 12 8 1 3 16 11 +5 Slaven Bilić
Netherlands 2007 2 0 0 2 2 4 −2 Dražen Ladić
Sweden 2009 10 7 1 2 20 12 +8 Dražen Ladić
Denmark 2011 10 5 2 3 18 15 +3 Dražen Ladić
Israel 2013 8 2 1 5 7 16 −9 Ivo Šušak
Czech Republic 2015 Qualification in progress 7 5 1 1 17 4 +13 Niko Kovač; Nenad Gračan
Total 2/10 6 0 2 4 7 11 −4 93 50 16 27 155 104 +51

Current squad[edit]

Past squads[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]