Sunday March 24 2013
Kovacic 'professor of football'

Inter teen Mateo Kovacic has been called “a professor of football” after his senior debut saw Croatia beat Serbia 2-0.

The 18-year-old midfielder played the full 90 minutes in Friday’s World Cup qualifier, just two months after Inter paid €15m to take him from Dynamo Zagreb.

Croatia star Niko Kranjcar nicknamed him “a professor of football” after the remarkably self-assured debut.

“My teammates at Inter helped me a great deal over the last few weeks and they are truly fantastic,” Kovacic told Croatian media.

“Dejan Stankovic has been there for 10 years and is a real symbol, while Samir Handanovic speaks practically the same language as me and gives a lot of advice.

“After the game, the Inter director Marco Branca called me up to give his compliments on the performance. It was very nice.

“It’s not easy to play from the start in a game like this, but I cancelled out the pressure thanks to the help from my more experienced teammates.”