Football: Childhood friends Split and reunite

Home United's Stipe Plazibat (far left) and Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic hanging out at Gardens by the Bay. However, when they meet, they barely talk about football.
Home United's Stipe Plazibat (left) and Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic hanging out at Gardens by the Bay. However, when they meet, they barely talk about football.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ IVANPERISIC444

They are best friends, separated thousands of kilometres by work. And this week's International Champions Cup (ICC) in Singapore gave Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Perisic and Home United striker Stipe Plazibat the perfect chance to catch up.

The Croatian duo, who first met at Hajduk Split's youth academy when they were both just eight years old, spent some precious time together at Gardens by the Bay on Tuesday.

"We met only for an hour, visited the gardens and went for coffee," said Plazibat on what he did when he met Perisic, who has recently been linked with a transfer to English giants Manchester United.

"I had an S-League match (against Warriors FC on Tuesday) so I couldn't walk around for too long, and he has obligations too.

"It's always nice to see a friend whom you see only one to two times in a year."

While they might be heavily occupied with their footballing careers, Plazibat and Perisic have been keeping in contact through WhatsApp a few times a month.

Besides Croatia, the two Split natives have also met at other places. Last November, Plazibat was invited by Perisic to an entertaining Milan derby, and saw his friend score a late equaliser against AC Milan to salvage a 2-2 draw at the San Siro Stadium.

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I was once his captain at Hajduk Split's youth academy. So, it's a very big pleasure to see one of my friends play against top teams.

STIPE PLAZIBAT, Home United striker, on Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Perisic, his friend since they were eight.

Every time they hang out, "football is the last thing" that they talk about, according to Plazibat.

The 27-year-old added: "When we talk, we just want to take our minds off football. We just have normal talks between friends.

"Of course, we also ask about each other's family. We know each other from eight years old, so we know each other's family members."

Not surprisingly, he will be cheering for 28-year-old Perisic at the National Stadium when Inter face Bayern tonight and Chelsea on Saturday.

"I was once his captain at Hajduk Split's youth academy," he said. "So, it's a very big pleasure to see one of my friends play against top teams. I'm glad to see him perform on this high level."

And while he will not be donning Inter's black-and-blue jersey, he said: "I don't normally support Inter Milan. But when (Perisic) is playing, I support Inter Milan.

"That's the biggest way I show my support."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'Childhood friends Split up and reunite'. Print Edition | Subscribe