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News 12 Sep 17

Croatian Club Honours Boy Who Rejected Vucic

Croatian football club HNK Rijeka presented a signed shirt to a boy who turned down Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's suggestion that he switch his allegiance to a Belgrade team.

Filip Rudic
Tino Popovic with his gift. Photo: HNK Rijeka

Eight-year-old Tino Popovic from Rijeka in Croatia, who became an internet sensation after he rejected Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's suggestion that he should start supporting a Belgrade club, has been given a team shirt signed by all the HNK Rijeka players, media reported on Tuesday.

The boy was presented with the shirt when he was a guest of HNK Rijeka at a match against another Croatian club, Cibalija, on Saturday, media reports said.

"There is no need to point out how much this gesture meant for the little fan, who is one of the many members of the new generation that will live, breathe and root for Rijeka," HNK Rijeka said in a statement.

Tino was one of several Croatian children who were hosted by Vucic on August 24, during their trip to Serbia.

When Vucic heard Tino was a supporter of HNK Rijeka, the Serbian president advised him to find a "bigger and better" club, such as Belgrade’s Red Star or Partizan.

"Let me tell you something, in the former Yugoslavia and beyond, Belgrade is prettier than other cities by far. It’s two and a half times the size of [the Croatian capital] Zagreb," Vucic also told the boy.

Despite Vucic’s entreaties however, Tino decided to stay true to his hometown club.

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