Nikola Vlasic desperate for West Ham to beat Dinamo Zagreb after past 'pain'
By Patrick Hayes
Ahead of West Ham’s final game in Group H, Nikola Vlasic spoke to the club’s website about facing his former foes Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday night at the London Stadium.
While the Hammers have made short-work of this season’s Europa League group stages, having cemented themselves as group winners, and a subsequent place in the competitions’ last 32; Vlasic still believes he has unfinished business when he comes face-to-face with his former rivals.
While discussing the rivalry, Vlasic said, “When I remember back to the games I played for Hajduk Split against Dinamo Zagreb, I know sometimes we lost 4-0 or 5-1…They were derbies so we would try our best but they were so much better at the time, even now. I hate to recall it! It’s like a pain in my heart!”
“It was a nice moment when I went there with West Ham and we won 2-0 in the Europa League earlier this season – but it’s just one in 20 occasions! I know we can knock Dinamo Zagreb out of the Europa League if we win and for everyone in Hajduk and for me, we would like that very much.”
Given the side’s success this season in both the Premier League and domestic and European cup competitions, as well as the relentless run of fixtures in December, it is expected that the Irons will rest several key players for what many fans will see as a meaningless tie. However, for Vlasic it is anything but that.
A product of the Hajduk Split academy, Vlasic went on to make 88 appearances for his boyhood club. His former team shared an infamous rivalry with Thursday’s opponents, Dinamo Zagreb, and Vlasic certainly hasn’t forgotten the importance of bragging rights.
It’ll no doubt mean a lot to the Croatia forward but it should also be massive for any fringe players or up-and-coming youngsters who David Moyes throws into the mix at the London Stadium.
In other West Ham news, an exiled Hammer could be set for a return to first-team action.