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Euro Whites: Ivan Klasnic

12 June 2016

A potent goalscorer for club and country, bwfc.co.uk profiles the first ever player to feature and score at a major international tournament after a transplant

With Croatia facing Turkey this afternoon, bwfc.co.uk continues our ongoing series throughout the tournament as we profile a former Wanderer who memorably scored when the two sides last met in the tournament back at Euro 2008, and also recently returned to Macron Stadium for last month's legends match.

IVAN KLASNIC
CROATIA (2004-2011) 
41 CAPS 12 GOALS 

European Championships: 2 (EURO 2004 AND EURO 2008) 
Best Stage Reached: QUARTER-FINALS 

Tournament Appearances:
Tournament Goals: 2

Boasting a 100% goalscoring record at the European Championships, Ivan Klasnic has every right to feel aggrieved at having not been utilised further by Croatia on the international stage. 

The Germany-born forward turned professional with FC St.Pauli in 1997, winning promotion to the Bundesliga with the club before moving on to Werder Bremen in 2001. 

Emerging as a key player as Bremen lifted the Bundesliga title and DFB-Pokal double in 2003/04, the forward’s form did not go unnoticed as he spurned an invitation from Rudi Voller to switch his allegiance to Germany in favour of representing Croatia. 

Handed his international debut ironically against the Germans in February 2004, Klasnic was then included in Croatia’s squad for Euro 2004 but remained an unused substitute throughout the tournament as they suffered a group-stage exit. 

The Croatians opened the tournament with draws against Switzerland and reigning European champions France, only to see a 4-2 defeat to England in their final group game seal a premature exit. 

Continuing to impress for Werder Bremen, Klasnic established himself as first-choice for Croatia following the tournament and netted his first international goal in a 2006 World Cup qualifier against Hungary. 

Going on to help Croatia qualify for the tournament with an unbeaten record, he started their first two group games as they lost to reigning world champions Brazil before drawing with Japan, only to suffer another early exit after drawing in their final match against Australia. 

On the scoresheet again for Croatia in an emphatic 7-0 victory over Andorra in Euro 2008 qualification, Klasnic was diagnosed with kidney failure in January 2007, with the forward missing most of the calendar year as a result. 

Forced to undergo two transplants after his body initially rejected his new kidney, Klasnic returned to training with Bremen in September 2007, before making his first start of the season the following November. 

Recalled by Croatia in March 2008 after a year-long absence, the forward became the first player to feature at a major tournament after a transplant as he was named in their squad for Euro 2008. 

An unused substitute in their first two games as Croatia beat both Austria and Germany, Klasnic scored the only goal after starting their final group game against Poland as the Croatians qualified for the knockout stages with a 100% record. 

Following a goalless 90 minutes in a quarter-final clash with Turkey, the forward then came off the bench in extra-time and seemed to have fired Croatia into the semis after putting them 1-0 ahead in the 119th minute.
 

However, a last-gasp stoppage time goal from Semih Senturk pegged the Croatians back, before Turkey progressed 3-1 on penalties. 

Signing for French side Nantes following the tournament, Klasnic joined Bolton Wanderers on a season-long loan deal in September 2009 following Les Canaris’ relegation to Ligue 2. 

Impressing enough to earn a permanent move to the Reebok Stadium in August 2010 after scoring eight goals in his maiden season in England, the forward also remained part of the Croatia set-up as they failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. 

Sporadic international appearances followed before he was withdrawn at half-time as he won his last cap in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Malta. 

However, Klasnic remained a threat in front of goal for Bolton and netted seven times during the 2010/11 season as the Trotters reached the FA Cup semi-finals. 

Scoring nine the following season, he was unable to save the Whites from relegation to the Championship, and returned to Germany with Mainz 05 in September 2012 following the end of his Wanderers contract. 

Injuries disrupted his year at the club as the forward made only three appearances for Mainz before hanging up his boots at the end of the 2012/13 season. 

However, Klasnic did manage to finish his career with a goal, finding the back of the net against Fortuna Dusseldorf on what proved to be not only his only start for Mainz, but also his last ever competitive appearance in March 2013.

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