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Friday 10th May 2002

Croatia defender Igor Tudor has admitted that he is distraught to miss out on this summer's World Cup, but refused to blame Juventus for his ankle injury. "It's happened and it's nobody's fault," he said. "Juventus are not guilty."

Tudor travelled to Amsterdam on Wednesday for surgery on the ankle, which he aggravated as Juve beat Udinese to clinch the Scudetto last week.

"This is a very difficult time for me, having to stay at home and miss the World Cup," he said. "I had a few examinations, and I thought I could get through this without surgery.

"When they told me in Amsterdam that I needed an operation, I opted for injections which have helped several other players in similar situations.

"I believed that I could play on that way, but the pain was too great. I hid the injury from journalists because I wanted to speak to [Croatia] coach Mirko Jozic first. Juventus have been very fair, and they are not responsible for this."

Earlier in the week, Jozic reacted with fury when he discovered that he would be without his best defender for the World Cup.

"If we have to play without Tudor, we will be 20 per cent weaker," he said. "If before I thought we had a better chance than Mexico and Ecuador, after this I can no longer say that.

"Juventus were not fair in this case," he said. "We asked them to release Tudor from his obligations to Juventus to let him fully recover from his injury and to prepare for the national team. They didn't do that."

Jozic has been in a running battle with the Juve medical staff since Tudor first injured his ankle against Lecce on September 23. He returned quicker than expected to face Torino on October 14, but broke down again.

An appearance in the Champions' League against Arsenal at Highbury on December 4 ended when he asked to be substituted on 14 minutes.

He returned to the Juve side in March but not before clashing with coach Marcello Lippi after refusing to start a Champions' League game against Bayer Leverkusen because he believed he was still not fully fit.

"I'm not a coward," he said then. "It was not correct to ask me to play. I'm not someone who refuses responsibility, but it was not the right moment.

"I was recently injured for five months and I suffered a lot trying to recover. Lippi and I had agreed I would not be risked. I was meant to only play 15 minutes against Inter last week, but I came on after 20 minutes because of Lilian Thuram's injury.

"I came through that without problems, even if my ankle was not at its best, but it was impossible to play a whole match three days later. I risked another injury. I was too tired.

"I have never put Juventus after the Croatian national team, but I lived a nightmare for five months and I don't want to repeat it. The state of my ankle means I cannot play two matches in three days."
 

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Well, our country is still in shock as Tusho is one of two players we do not have a substitute for, the other being former Juve star, Alen Boksic.

I think all parties have been fair in this whole saga, but can't help feeling resentment towards Coach Lippi. Calling one of your best players a "coward" is disgusting, unproffessional and demeaning, any board in their right mind would have fined Lippi big time. That's disgraceful. Especially after seeing that Tudor's injury is very real, and he's missing the bet moments of his life because of it.

Tudor was very fair in his statements, and I applaud him for it. Juce have also been reasonable, heck, they pay the man. But they also pay their doctors well to give green lights to injured players, I suspect.

all in all, we'll have to do without him, Juve won the serie A and Tudor was partly responsible for it.

Lippi was the spineless coward for caling his best defender that infront of media, shame on him.
 

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Lippi

All I can say is Lippi is an a$$hole. To call Tudor a "coward" in the press is the act of an idiot. Igor won't forget this, nor will other young Croatian talent.

F-Lippi.
 

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Lippi never called Tudor a coward...

Read more carefully. Just because Tudor claims that he's not a coward doesn't mean that Lippi called him one, much less in the press.
 

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hmm, you're wrong, Lippi called him something best translated from Italian to English as a "coward". Where have you been?
 

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Well...

Maybe he was quoted as saying that, but I actually
doubt it - [email protected] newspapers make up bogus quotes
all the time to sell papers. Probably Tudor would have
said something more forceful about Lippi if he thought
that he really did say something so shameful.

Anyway, I never trust the press!
 

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anyways, they got over that hurdle, now we have a big one to climb
 
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