Pletikosa with Spartak Moscow in 2008
|Date of birth||8 January 1979|
|Place of birth||Split, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia|
|Height||1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Current club||FC Rostov|
|2005–2006||→ Hajduk Split (loan)||21||(0)|
|2010–2011||→ Tottenham Hotspur (loan)||0||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 2 December 2013.
† Appearances (Goals).
Stipe Pletikosa (pronounced [stǐːpe plětikosa]; born 8 January 1979) is a Croatian football goalkeeper who plays for the Russian Premier League club FC Rostov and the Croatian national team. Pletikosa started his professional career with Hajduk Split, from where he was transferred to Shakhtar Donetsk, before joining Spartak Moscow in 2007. In 2011, after spending one season with Tottenham Hotspur, he signed with FC Rostov. He made his international debut for Croatia in 1999, and has since then represented the country in four major tournaments. After Darijo Srna, he is the second most capped player in the history of Croatia national team, for which he has made 109 appearances.
Pletikosa began his career at Croatian club Hajduk Split. He was selected as first team goalkeeper for the 1998/99 season by then manager Ivan Katalinić, replacing the ageing Tonči Gabrić. Pletikosa's excellent reflexes and coordination lead to Hajduk fans nicknaming him 'octopus' (hobotnica). In 2002, he was named Večernji list Croatian player of the year; Zoran Simovic was the only goalkeeper to have won this award previously.
In 2003 Pletikosa alongside teammate Darijo Srna transferred to Shakhtar Donetsk for €2 million. Unlike Srna, Pletikosa did not succeed at the club, and was loaned out back to Hajduk Split in 2005. His second spell at Hajduk proved successful and earned him a starting place in Croatia's 2006 World Cup squad. Pletikosa returned to Shakhtar the following season, but found himself second choice to Jan Laštůvka, prompting the goalkeeper to seek a move. A bid of €3 million from Dinamo Zagreb was accepted, but Pletikosa rejected due to his loyalty to Hajduk, the club's biggest rivals. A loan move to Fulham also failed as he could not gain a work permit.
On 7 March, Russia's transfer deadline day, Pletikosa signed for Spartak Moscow for a fee of €3 million, signing a three-year contract. He featured regularly for the first team until 2009, where he was less favoured by manager Valery Karpin.
On 31 August 2010, he signed a season-long loan with Tottenham Hotspur of the Premier League. He made his Tottenham debut in a 1–4 home defeat against Arsenal in the League Cup on 21 September 2010. It was his only appearance for the team.
In July 2011 Pletikosa began a trial at Scottish Premier League club Celtic in which he played in both an away match vs Cardiff City and a home friendly vs Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers failed to impress in both games. In August 2011 manager Neil Lennon decided he would not pursue the goalkeeper any further.
Pletikosa made his Croatia debut as a 20-year-old against Denmark in 1999, winning plaudits for his cat-like reflexes and shot-stopping. But insecurity over the handling of high balls took a heavy toll at the 2000 European under-21 championship in Slovakia, where Croatia finished last in their group after Pletikosa conceded some soft goals.
Pletikosa worked hard on improving the weaknesses in his game and under former Croatia coach Mirko Jozić, he became his country's first-choice goalkeeper, playing in all three matches at the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals. The once nervous though talented Pletikosa had blossomed, making full use of every centimetre of his 1.93-metre frame and possessing a far greater assurance when dealing with difficult high balls.
He was also supposed to be Croatia's first goalkeeper at the UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal, but sustained an injury a few days before the beginning of the tournament and the position of the team's first goalkeeper was taken by Tomislav Butina, who was up to that time his first reserve. Butina retained the position in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying, so Pletikosa appeared in only two qualifying matches. Nevertheless, when the finals tournament started, Pletikosa was chosen over Butina, who had still been recovering from an injury sustained early in the year.
At UEFA Euro 2008, he was named Man of the Match in Croatia's opening victory against Austria, in which he made many saves to help his side to hang on to a very narrow victory after the Austrians began to completely dominate the Croatian outfit after the first, and only, penalty goal.
On 16 June 2008, during the UEFA Euro 2008 match between Austria and Germany, BBC pundit Alan Hansen stated his belief that Pletikosa had been "the best goalkeeper in the (UEFA Euro 2008) tournament" thus far, ahead of more established 'keepers like Petr Čech, Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas, although his colleague Alan Shearer said that Edwin van der Sar had been equally impressive. However, despite these comments, Pletikosa was not highlighted as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Those honours went to Buffon, Casillas and van der Sar, who were the three goalkeepers named in the Team of the Tournament.
- Hajduk Split
- Shakhtar Donetsk
- Heart of Hajduk Award: 2000, 2002
- Prva HNL Player of the Year: 2001, 2002
- Croatian Footballer of the Year: 2002
- "Premier League Player Profile". Premier League. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- "Tottenham Hotspur complete Stipe Pletikosa loan deal". BBC Sport. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
- Brian, Marjoribanks. "Celtic 0 Wolves 2: Hoops's trialists fail to shine as McCarthy's men triumph". Retrieved 12 August 2012.
- "Pletikosa joins Rostov". FIFA.com. 6 August 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- Stipe Pletikosa – FIFA competition record
- Stipe Pletikosa statistics and biography at FootballDatabase.com
- Stipe Pletikosa at National-Football-Teams.com
- English Premier League profile