Ha left Atalanta to applause of Bergamo supporters with shining eyes and a physique tested by the fight against depression and wearing the Nerazzurri shirt number “72”. Josip Ilicic he terminated his contract with the Dea club, said goodbye to coach Gian Piero Gasperini, whom he had met in Palermo many years before, and said goodbye to Italy and its football.
“Gasp”: “Doctors can’t give us an answer…”
Prima Palermo, then Fiorentina, but above all Atalanta for a player who made history for the poker di valencia (4 goals in Valencia-Atalanta 3-4 in the 2019-20 Champions League) in addition to 60 goals and 44 assists in 172 overall games with the Orobics. But also the man forced to miss games in the last few championships due to depression (“Doctors can’t give us an answer, I can’t give it,” said his technician Gasperini).
“I still want to play”
“I don’t stop, even if I’m a few years older. I still want to play“, the last words of the Slovenian champion. And the “Professor” (as they called him in Bergamo) returned home on October 5, 2022. He signed with Maribor (team with which he had won the Slovenian championship in 2010-2011) a three-year contract. He returned to the field on 6 November and converted a penalty kick (in the league match won against NŠ Mura 5-1) and he found his smile and the desire to play at “his level“. Since that day Ilicic has worked hard and brought his physique back to its standard shape.
The dream of returning to the Slovenian national team
Now Ilicic is 35 years old and has one last sporting dream: wear the Slovenia shirt again, who he preferred to Croatia already at the time of the Under 21. Because Ilicic was born in Bosnia but in a Croatian family who then fled to Slovenia because of the war. THElicic never announced his international retirement and today many ask the Football Association of Slovenia to call him up again (the last match against Slovenia dates back to November 2021). A media pressure that poured on coach Matjaz Kek. The selector he answered: “I don’t care if a player is 19 or 35 and I’m not referring only to Ilicic but I don’t want to focus on just one player”.