Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic has rejected a World Cup runners-up medal gifted him by his teammates and coaching staff after the country returned home.
Despite not playing a minute at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after a dispute with coach Zlatko Dalic, Kalinic’s international team-mates and coaching crew decided to award the 30 year old with a silver medal following the World Cup final defeat to France.
He however rejected it, telling Sportske Novosti: “Thanks for the medal, but I did not play in Russia”
Kalinic was sent home from the tournament after Croatia’s opening game against Nigeria by head coach Zlatko Dalic after the AC Milan striker refused to come on as a substitute in Croatia’s 2-0 win over Nigeria, citing fitness issues.
Dalic claimed after the game that he needed players who were “fit and ready to play.”
Kalinic had earlier missed out on the pre-tournament warm-up game with Brazil and was forced to sit out training due to back spasms.
He went on vacation as Croatia made a dazzling run to the World Cup final where they lost 4-2 in heart-stopping fashion to France.