Euro Lowdown: Hajduk Split

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Everton have been pitted against Hajduk Split in the Europa League’s play-off round. We’ve unearthed all you need to know about the team from Croatia.

Rich pedigree

Hajduk Split are six-time Croatian champions and, before the country gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, won the Yugoslav title on nine occasions.

This is the club’s 11th successive Europa League campaign, albeit they have not progressed beyond the group stage, which they reached in 2010/11.

Hajduk did, though, reach the semi-finals of the competition in 1983/84, when they lost out on away goals to eventual winners Tottenham.

They made it as far as the last eight two years later, only to go down in a penalty shootout against Belgian side K.S.V Waregem.

Hajduk lost to Leeds in a European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final back in 1973 and have been European Cup quarter-finalists three times, most recently in 1995, when they ran into Louis van Gaal’s exceptional Ajax side, who ultimately lifted the trophy.

Where did it all start?

Hajduk Split were founded in 1906. From 1911 they played in the city’s Stadion Stari plac, before relocating to their current home – Stadion Poljud – in 1979.

The ground was initially built to host that year’s Mediterranean Games and was also used for European Athletics Championships in 1980.

Stadion Poljud

Hajduk’s home has room for nearly 35,000 spectators. The biggest crowd to watch Hajduk in action last term was the 29,109 who came through the gates for the Eternal Derby meeting with bitter rivals Dinamo Zagreb – a match which ended in a 4-0 win for the away side.

Where is Split?

Croatia’s second city, Split is located on the Dalmatian Coast in the south of the country.

The Blues’ visit comes in the middle of the Croatian summer, when temperatures can climb above 35 degrees.

Split’s cuisine revolves around seafood, with grilled fish, fried squid and seafood stew all popular dishes

Look out, too, for Dalmatian pasticada, which constitutes slabs of beef stewed in prunes and red wine.

You’ll be paying for your food and drink using Croatian Kuna.

How did they get here?

Hajduk Split’s third-place finish in last season’s domestic top-flight earned them a spot in the Europa League’s second qualifying round.

They saw off Bulgarian team Levski Sofia 3-1 on aggregate, before pulling Brondby out of the hat at the next stage.

After securing a hard-fought 0-0 draw in Scandinavia, Hajduk returned home to beat the Danes 2-0 and set up this clash with Everton.

Show us your colours

Hajduk, who last won their domestic title in 2005, wear a strip consisting of white shirt, blue shorts and blue socks.

The club’s away kit is made up of a red and blue, horizontally striped jersey, with blue shorts and blue socks.

Notable alumni

Croatia’s most capped player, Dario Srna, who has represented his national team 134 times, played for Hajduk for four years from 1999.

Current Rangers and former Tottenham star Niko Kranjcar completed a controversial move to Hajduk from Dinamo Zagreb in 2005 but stayed for only one season before moving on to Portsmouth.

Alen Boksic, who played in this country for Middlesbrough between 2000-03, won the Yugoslav Cup with Hajduk in 1991, before switching to France, where he was part of the Marseille side that won the 1993 European Cup.

So far as Everton connections go, Slaven Bilic started and finished his career with Hajduk Split and also managed the club temporarily during the 2001-02 season.

Former Blues striker Nikica Jelavic set out on his football path with Split, where he stayed for five years before being snapped up by Belgian team Zulte Waregem in 2007.

PS…

Hajduk Split might have suffered at the hands of English clubs in Europe but the Croatians put Manchester United to the sword in a friendly match in 1980.

A United side featuring such luminaries as Steve Coppell, Joe Jordan, Lou Macari, Ray Wilkins and Sammy McIlroy were roundly beaten 6-0 on a chastening occasion for the visiting Red Devils in front of 30,000 fans at Stadion Poljud.

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