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Soldo, soul of Stuttgart
Tuesday, 11 January 2005
By Mark Bennett




When asked which player in the squad he considered irreplaceable, VfB Stuttgart coach Matthias Sammer did not name playmaker Alexander Hleb or German internationals Philipp Lahm, Andreas Hinkel or Kevin Kuranyi. Instead he replied: "The only player that I can't replace is Zvonimir Soldo."

New broom
Sammer may have been seen as a new broom when he took over at Stuttgart in the summer, but he certainly had no intention of removing the veteran Soldo. At 37, the former Croatian international recently signed a one-year extension to his contract and his talents are showing no sign of diminishing.



Priceless experience
"His experience on the field is extremely valuable to the side," said Sammer, who has been hugely impressed with Soldo's skill and leadership qualities. "He can read the game, is still very fit, can pass the ball and is strong in the air. All in all he is a complete player.



Applied knowledge
"There isn't a single situation in the game that Zvonimir hasn't been through already. He knows the game inside out and can pass the experience on to our younger players. That ability combined with his pure skill and tenacity makes him so valuable to our cause."

Extra year
Soldo's contract at Stuttgart had been due to expire this summer, and the former NK Dinamo Zagreb man, who signed in 1996, was ready to retire. "My time in the Bundesliga is coming to an end," said the Stuttgart captain. "I will leave at the end of the season."

Sammer persuasion
However, as Stuttgart continue to challenge in Germany and Europe, Sammer has persuaded Soldo to persevere. "You are still fit and haven't had any real injuries, so why quit?" said Sammer. "I had to leave the game early because of my knee problems and I would give my right arm to still be playing."

Club role
The club were no less willing to let Soldo carry on for another year. As he persisted in persuading the player to sign a new deal, Stuttgart chairman Erwin Staudt said: "Tying Zvonimir to the club is one of our top priorities We all hope that we can persuade him to stay."

Midfield anchor
The midfield anchor that holds Stuttgart together, Soldo can now look back on a career which has seen him make over 250 Bundesliga appearances, and while his greatest achievement with the club was winning the German Cup in 1996/97, he had the honour of leading them in the UEFA Champions League last season.

Parma prospect
With Stuttgart third in the Bundesliga at the winter break, and with a two-legged UEFA Cup tie against Parma FC to look forward to in February, Soldo may well feel that even greater honours lie ahead.

Kidney operation
However, his first target will be to get ready for the start of the second half of the season after being sidelined by an operation to remove kidney stones during the Christmas break. He is already back on his feet and has joined Stuttgart at their training camp in Marbella.

Recovery programme
"I am feeling much better, but need a bit of time," he said. "I did a few laps today and will have to take things slowly. The doctors are keeping an eye on me and they will allow me to increase the training in the next few days if everything is OK." With a new contract and a new lease of life, it seems that nothing can stop him.

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Truly a living legend.
 

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What a legend. Underrated amongst most fans but still one of our best performing players. He would still do the job for the NT aswell.

You know when a players stays that long at a club and they are trying to convince him to stay longer that he is a special player.
 

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When I was saying we needed him on NT last year all I heard was he's "had his time", "too old", "we have Leko, Vranjes"...those guys couldn't lace his boots.

Soldo hardly ever gives a poor pass or makes mistakes.
 

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Soldo playing well for Stuttgart is one thing but playing well for the N/T is another. We need young guys for the future and present to develop(between ages of 20-25), no matter how well Soldo is doing now playing in Germany, he still only has 2 years left and our problem really isn't defensive mids, but rather attacking or creative mids and Soldo wouldn't solve that problem either. It's great for him to be getting those types of accolades this late in his career but he is more of a character guy who never ****s up rather than a great player who makes incredible plays, I wish people noticed the difference. If he was to replace Niko Kovac in our mid then yeah fine but thats about the only job he can do in mid and we have guys like Jerko Leko-Biscan and still Kovac to do that same exact job. Vranjes sucking yes... because Soldo starts instead of him and they are on the same exact team and Vranjes is like 12 years younger lol, this proves 2 things Vranjes' averageness and Soldo's consistency but it doesn't make me feel any better when a starting 11 youngster on our N/T can't beat out a 37 year old former N/T player on thier club team. Also many former N/T players for other countries have quit their respective N/T's and just concentrated thier energy on thier club teams and it has extended thier career's by a few years(Maldini, Bergkamp, Shearer etc...) not playing for the N/T probably helps Soldo just focus on Stuttgart and its paid off because some of his best years have come after quitting the N/T in 2002.
 

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Super Croat said:
When I was saying we needed him on NT last year all I heard was he's "had his time", "too old", "we have Leko, Vranjes"...those guys couldn't lace his boots.

Soldo hardly ever gives a poor pass or makes mistakes.
Plus he is a leader and that is what the NT has been missing for years now.

I was expecting Leko to develop more and take it to the next level but he hasn't so far. Vranjes shouldn't even be in the NT, let alone starting.
 

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a problem iwth nats teams is that they too often talk bout kids and the future

what about living in the now

i would trade the next two world cups, hell the next 5 world cups if we were to win one with a bunch of oldies....u get what im saying
 

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Yeah the best should play, but to be honest apart from Soldo I don't think there is any other older guys that would do better than the current team. We have already seen what the results are of playing old guys that are past it.

Rapaic maybe?
 

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oh its w/out a doubt we have no one who is older who can play, but i was just noting a point, a question is where was Soldo in WC02 and Euro2004.

We have squadered alot of talent and money since 98, its time for Croatian football to get its head out of its ass, time to regroup and realize that success doesnt come by way of chance and nepotism, but rather hard work and sacrifice.

The country and football are in need of serious reform....and its sad to see no one is willing to do it despite the need being overwelmingly apparent.
 

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Lav said:
oh its w/out a doubt we have no one who is older who can play, but i was just noting a point, a question is where was Soldo in WC02 and Euro2004.

We have squadered alot of talent and money since 98, its time for Croatian football to get its head out of its ass, time to regroup and realize that success doesnt come by way of chance and nepotism, but rather hard work and sacrifice.

The country and football are in need of serious reform....and its sad to see no one is willing to do it despite the need being overwelmingly apparent.
Soldo played at the WC. He retired after that so that he can play a few more years domestically. I don't even think he was planning to play this long.

We all talk about it here Lav, the need to reform, but it is not just the unwillingness that I am scraed of, but also the know how.
 

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the know how is there if someone is willing to do it

first we have to get the courage to want to change, after that it becomes simple

we dont have a willingness to move foward and that is the sad thing
 

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I do think people want to do it but for some reason nobody wants to take on the current regime. I have no idea why that is the case because they would have the support of the fans ....
 

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exactly

change can come and will come...but you have to push for it....and right now despite what ppl say we are not caring about our teams
 

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We should do to vlatko marković what the Romanian people did to Nicolae Ceausescu.:thmbup:
 

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Bwhahhahahaha

dont forget Mamic ;)
 

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I have the pleasure of seeing Soldo play Bundesliga 4 or 5 times a season here on tv... He is a leader on the field in a true sense. He literaly points to open players and where to pass to for teamates. You see him directing his teamates where to hold position... He's not flashy and he harldy ever dribbles. He plays simple football and rarely makes mistakes...in my opinion he is the most underated of the Vatreni. In WC'02 he was solid. His teamates sucked around him though...except for the Italy game.:)

He's retired from the NT and will not play again....which is too bad because he is better than any other mid-fielder we have.

His leadership quality's may prove useful for a future coaching position in the NT.:cool:
 

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What´s up with Tudor?....is he injured?
Any news about Srna, Pletikosa?.......hope they will find some good clubs with alot of play.
 

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Tudor isn't injured, he just isn't playing but there were rumours of him leaving.
Pletikosa is wanted by WBA and Boro, honestly not sure about Srna, I'd like to see him get out of Ukraine as soon as possible and play for a club in Germany, Italy or England.
 

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Super Croat said:
I have the pleasure of seeing Soldo play Bundesliga 4 or 5 times a season here on tv... He is a leader on the field in a true sense. He literaly points to open players and where to pass to for teamates. You see him directing his teamates where to hold position...
Yeah if your team has a coach on the field, in my opinion you are around 30% better off for it. Most captain's these days are just players with a band around their arm. They don't act like one.
 
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