The unexpected connection between Celtic stars Juranovic, Rogic and a major sportswear brand
Most Celtic fans love new Bhoy Josip Juranovic and veteran Tom Rogic.
And they probably know that Rogic was a part of the Nike Academy’s ‘The Chance’, before signing for the Bhoys.
The Australia international, in the winter of 2011, came to the UK to impress top scouts and win a place in the Nike Academy, headed up by Director of Football Jimmy Gilligan. The prize was, as expected, a “chance”, to live, train and play in the sportswear brand’s academy set-up [Nike].
Rogic took that chance and now he’s a key player for Celtic, having signed in 2013.
What you might not know is how eerily similar the path taken by Josip Juranovic was. Before becoming a regular at Dubrava, Juranovic won the Croatian leg of ‘The Chance’.
The Croatian international explained [Herald]:
“That was maybe eight years ago. There was a tournament run by Nike for players who didn’t have a professional contract with a club.
“There was like 46 boys who were competing by playing three games a day. The games were 45 minutes long and then we had speed tests and passing tests and at the end of it one guy would go and represent Croatia in London.
“I came close. Only three people went to stay at the Nike Academy and I was like the fourth or fifth in line. Because of that experience I am here at Celtic. After that my career started to go up the way.
“There was a video of me receiving a presentation from Mandzukic and Mateo Kovacic was there also. Now I am playing with Kovacic in the Croatia national team.”
Nike are somewhat responsible for two Celtic starters, Josip Juranovic and Tom Rogic
Given that Nike were Celtic’s sponsors for so long, it was clearly a really useful resource to have. Top-tier Nike-affiliated teams would have been given reports on ‘The Chance’ prospects, surely.
Here’s hoping adidas are running a similar competition!
Juranovic may not have made the Nike Academy in the end, but the experience was massively valuable. Rubbing shoulders with Croatia first-team players could only have inspired him.
Now, he’s Croatia’s first-choice right-back. Funny how things work out sometimes.
Rogic and Juranovic will surely have bonded over their experiences with ‘The Chance’. Having two players with such a similar start to their careers in the one team seems statistically unlikely.
The pair will likely be on the team-sheet tonight as Celtic take on Hearts. Both valuable members of Ange Postecoglou’s side, there’s clearly something in an education from Nike.
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