Petar Segrt: Well-travelled Dreamer Making Tajikistan Football History
Muhammad Rameez Published January 23, 2024 | 03:10 PM
Doha, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 23rd Jan, 2024) Petar Segrt reached into his jacket pocket with a grin and pulled out a smashed pair of glasses -- victims of his Tajikistan team's celebrations after a historic 2-1 Asian Cup win over Lebanon.
"These players!" said the colourful 57-year-old Croat, who had just led the tournament debutants into the knockout rounds in Qatar.
"This is now the second time that they kill my glasses, these crazy players. Every time when they score or something they jump on me, I don't know why."
With his rakish facial hair and flowing but receded grey locks, Segrt has something of the Albert Einstein about him.
Exuberance, a tactile nature and a connection with players fighting against the odds have been key weapons in his arsenal during an itinerant coaching career which has seen him manage Maldives and Afghanistan.
"This is football. Every one of us has a dream," Segrt said after making history with the team he took over two years ago.
A dreamer's optimism is another key Segrt trait.
He did not achieve those lofty goals during his 2015-17 tenure but conditions were hardly ideal.
One night in the capital he "heard a bomb go off and then gunfire" after militants attacked a guesthouse attached to the Spanish embassy, leading to a frantic search for players who had been near the scene.
No one from the team was hurt, but it was not the first brush with conflict in Segrt's career.
Refusing to leave, Segrt ended up addressing a patriotic rally and insisted on carrying on, taking the team to play -- and win -- a friendly in Wales.
"This game showed Russia that you can bomb us and you can send tanks into our country, but you will never stop our people."
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