Stipe Pletikosa

Stipe Pletikosa
Rostov-Krasnodar (2).jpg
Pletikosa with Rostov
Personal information
Full name Stipe Pletikosa[1]
Date of birth (1979-01-08) 8 January 1979 (age 40)
Place of birth Split, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)[2]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
1986–1996 Hajduk Split
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–2003 Hajduk Split 141 (4)
2003–2007 Shakhtar Donetsk 32 (0)
2005–2006 Hajduk Split (loan) 21 (0)
2007–2011 Spartak Moscow 63 (0)
2010–2011 Tottenham Hotspur (loan) 0 (0)
2011–2015 Rostov 110 (0)
2015–2016 Deportivo La Coruña 2 (0)
Total 369 (4)
National team
1994 Croatia U15 1 (0)
1994–1995 Croatia U16 2 (0)
1994 Croatia U17 2 (0)
1995–1997 Croatia U18 2 (0)
1995–1998 Croatia U19 14 (0)
1999 Croatia U20 5 (0)
1998–2001 Croatia U21 13 (0)
1999–2014 Croatia 114 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14 May 2016

Stipe Pletikosa (pronounced [stǐːpe plětikosa];[3][4] born 8 January 1979) is a Croatian former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper.

Pletikosa began his professional career with Hajduk Split in Croatia, transferred to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine, then joined Spartak Moscow in 2007. After spending one season with Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League, he returned to Russia in 2011 with Rostov, then moved to Deportivo de La Coruña of La Liga in 2015, where he retired.

Pletikosa made his international debut for Croatia in 1999, and went on to represent the country in five major tournaments. He is the second-most capped player in the history of the Croatian national team after Darijo Srna, having made 114 appearances. Pletikosa retired from international football following the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[5]

Club career

Hajduk Split

Pletikosa began his career at Croatian club Hajduk Split. He was selected as first-team goalkeeper for the 1998–99 season by manager Ivan Katalinić, replacing the veteran Tonči Gabrić. Hajduk fans nicknamed him "Octopus" ("Hobotnica") for his excellent reflexes and coordination. In 2002, he was named by magazine Večernji list as Croatian Player of the Year, the only goalkeeper other than Zoran Simović to have won the award.

Shakhtar Donetsk

In 2003, Pletikosa and teammate Darijo Srna transferred to Shakhtar Donetsk for 2 million. Unlike Srna, Pletikosa did not succeed at the club and was subsequently loaned back to Hajduk in 2005. His second spell at Hajduk proved successful and earned him a starting place in Croatia's 2006 World Cup squad. Pletikosa returned to Shakhtar the following season, but found himself second choice to Jan Laštůvka, prompting the goalkeeper to seek a move. Shakhtar accepted a bid of €3 million from Dinamo Zagreb, but Pletikosa rejected the move due to his loyalty to Hajduk, Dinamo's biggest rivals. A loan move to Fulham also fell through as he could not gain a work permit.

Pletikosa in 2008 playing for Spartak.

Spartak Moscow

On 7 March, the Russian football federation's transfer deadline day, Pletikosa signed a three-year, €3 million contract to join Spartak Moscow. He featured regularly for the first-team until 2009, when he was less favoured by manager Valeri Karpin.

On 31 August 2010, Pletikosa signed a season-long loan with Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League.[6] He made his Tottenham debut in a 4–1 home defeat against Arsenal in the League Cup on 21 September 2010. It was his only appearance for the club.

In July 2011, Pletikosa began a trial at Scottish Premier League club Celtic, playing in friendly matches away to Cardiff City and at home to Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers, in which he failed to impress.[7] In August 2011, manager Neil Lennon decided not to keep him as a member of the squad.

Rostov

On 6 August 2011, Pletikosa signed a two-year contract with Russian Premier League club Rostov.[8]

Deportivo La Coruña

Pletikosa playing for Deportivo de La Coruña.

On 20 December 2015, Pletikosa signed a six-month deal with La Liga side Deportivo de La Coruña, mainly as a replacement for the injured Fabricio.[9]

International career

Pletikosa made his Croatia senior debut as a 20-year-old against Denmark in 1999, winning plaudits for his dog-like reflexes and shot-stopping. But insecurity over the handling of high balls took a heavy toll at the 2000 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Slovakia, where Croatia finished last in their group.

Pletikosa worked hard to correct the weaknesses in his game. Under former Croatia head coach Mirko Jozić, he became his country's first-choice goalkeeper, playing all three matches at the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals. Pletikosa blossomed, using all of his 1.93-metre frame when dealing with difficult crosses.

Named as Croatia's first-choice goalkeeper at the UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal, he sustained an injury a few days before the beginning of the tournament and was replaced by reserve goalkeeper Tomislav Butina. Butina retained the position of number one goalkeeper during the qualification rounds for the 2006 World Cup. As a result, Pletikosa appeared in only two qualifying matches. Nevertheless, Pletikosa was chosen over Butina in the finals, since Butina was still recovering from an injury sustained early in the year.

At Euro 2008, Pletikosa was named Man of the Match in Croatia's opening victory against Austria, making many saves to preserve Croatia's 1–0 lead from an early penalty. On 16 June 2008, during the match between Austria and Germany, BBC pundit Alan Hansen stated his belief that Pletikosa had been "the best goalkeeper in the tournament" up to that point, ahead of more well-known contemporaries such as Petr Čech, Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas, although his colleague Alan Shearer said Edwin van der Sar had been equally impressive. However, Buffon, Casillas and Van der Sar were eventually voted to the Team of the Tournament.

On 6 February 2013, Pletikosa played his 100th international match for Croatia, keeping a clean sheet in a 4–0 defeat of South Korea.[10]

In the opening match of the 2014 World Cup, played on 12 June against hosts Brazil, a penalty was given against Croatia with the match tied 1–1. Pletikosa made contact with Neymar's spot kick, but could not prevent it from going in. Croatia eventually lost 3–1.[11] On 17 July 2014, following the World Cup, Pletikosa announced his retirement from the national team.[12]

Pletikosa keeping for Croatia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Career statistics

Club

As of Match played 14 May 2016 [13]
Season Club League League Cup Continental Other[nb 1] Total
App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals
1996–97 Hajduk Split Prva HNL 1 0 0 0 1 0
1997–98 1 0 0 0 1 0
1998–99 19 0 0 0 19 0
1999–2000 32 0 3 0 35 0
2000–01 31 1 2 0 33 1
2001–02 27 0 6 0 33 0
2002–03 30 3 4 2 34 5
2003–04 Shakhtar Donetsk Ukrainian Premier League 23 0 6 0 0 0 29 0
2004–05 6 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
2005–06 Hajduk Split (loan) Prva HNL 21 0 21 0
2006–07 Shakhtar Donetsk Ukrainian Premier League 3 0 1 0 0 0 4 0
2007 Spartak Moscow Russian Premier League 29 0 9 0 38 0
2008 30 0 8 0 38 0
2009 4 0 1 0 5 0
2010 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010–11 Tottenham Hotspur (loan) Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
2011–12 Rostov Russian Premier League 23 0 0 0 2 0 25 0
2012–13 30 0 3 0 2 0 35 0
2013–14 27 0 3 0 30 0
2014–15 30 0 0 0 2 0 3 0 35 0
2015–16 Deportivo La Coruña La Liga 2 0 2 0
Total Hajduk Split 162 4 15 2 177 6
Shakhtar Donetsk 32 0 7 0 0 0 39 0
Spartak Moscow 63 0 1 0 17 0 0 0 81 0
Tottenham Hotspur 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Rostov 110 0 6 0 2 0 7 0 125 0
Deportivo La Coruña 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Career total 369 4 7 0 41 2 8 0 425 6

International

Croatia national team
Year Apps Goals
1999 3 0
2000 5 0
2001 7 0
2002 10 0
2003 12 0
2004 5 0
2005 4 0
2006 11 0
2007 8 0
2008 12 0
2009 2 0
2010 2 0
2011 8 0
2012 10 0
2013 10 0
2014 5 0
Total 114 0

Statistics accurate as of match played 23 June 2014[14]

Honours

Club

Hajduk Split
Shakhtar Donetsk
Rostov

Individual

Personal life

Pletikosa is a practising Roman Catholic who is known to wear a T-shirt with a picture of the Virgin Mary under his uniform for good luck when he plays.[15][16]