It was 20 years in the making.

Grown adults weeping, old friends hugging, children cheering. Croatia’s thrilling semifinal victory over England at the World Cup on Wednesday was felt in northeast Calgary.

“Euphoria. Nobody expected us to get there, we did it,” said Ivan Pocrnic, one of hundreds of fans who watched the 2-1 win in extra time at the Croatian-Canadian Cultural Centre. “We had the passion, the love. We knew we would get there. We did.”

The Croatian community in Calgary, about 6,000 strong, has waited a long time for this, said the centre’s president, Ivan Vukalse.

“Where there is one Croatian, there is a lot more,” he said. “In North America, soccer is not very popular. It’s coming, but as in Europe, for us, it is very, very important. When I was a young kid . . . that was the only sport we had back home when there was no TVs or anything else.”

Croatian fans celebrate at Calgary’s Croatian Canadian Club after Croatia defeated England in World Cup Soccer semi-final action 2-1 on Wednesday July 11, 2018. Gavin Young/Postmedia

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Croatian fans celebrate at Calgary’s Croatian Canadian Club after Croatia defeated England in World Cup Soccer semi-final action 2-1 on Wednesday July 11, 2018. Gavin Young/Postmedia

A nervous crowd watched as Croatia came out of halftime down 1-0. But it erupted after the tying marker in the second half, and that carried into extra time. After the go-ahead tally, there was no turning back for the crowd, overcome with emotion and singing until the final minute. They knew they had it.

“Oh, my God, we absolutely deserve this. We were the better team,” said Rosina Tobin. “I’ve watched every single game in this World Cup, not …read more

Source:: Calgary Herald

      

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