Coincidence? Croatia’s football-loving leader gave Putin and Trump identically-numbered jerseys
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, a passionate football fan, captured the spotlight with her ardent and emotional support for her nation’s squad at the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Apart from cheering on the team, she had a couple of high-profile meetings in between the games, and she came bearing gifts – Croatian football jerseys.
Trump and Putin received their gifts on separate occasions. Putin was given his jersey on July 7 at the Kremlin, just hours before his nation’s team faced Croatia in the quarter-final. And, since the US didn’t make it to this year’s World Cup, the Croatian leader took advantage of the opportunity to give a jersey to US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels a couple of days later.
The red-and-white jerseys, with the checkered pattern of Croatia’s flag, had Trump’s and Putin’s last names on the back, both with the number nine.
The heads of the US and Russia were not the only world leaders to receive the gift. During the same NATO meeting, Grabar-Kitarovic gave a jersey to UK Prime Minister Theresa May on the day England’s team played Croatia in the semi-final. This jersey, however, was a number 10!
The Croatian president also gave a national football jersey to Pope Francis on a visit to the Vatican three years ago. The pontiff’s shirt was also number nine, but had a unique feature – the back contained not only his name, but title as well. Vatican City actually has an official football team, but it doesn’t play in major tournaments.
During the World Cup, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic flew to Russia three times to see her team play, and hugged the players and their manager after every game. Croatia eventually took second place after losing to France 4-2 on July 15. Nevertheless, the Croatian players were hailed as heroes upon returning home.
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