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Shakhtar Donetsk interim manager on rejecting Barcelona as a player: “100% convinced of my decision”



Photo by Selim Sudheimer/Getty Images

Darijo Srna is considered a legend and a cult hero at Shakhtar Donetsk, who happen to be the next opponents in the UEFA Champions League for FC Barcelona.

The former Croatian international spent almost his entire career with the Ukrainian giants, having joined the club in 2003 before leaving in 2018, a year before he retired.

Now, Srna has been operating as Shakhtar’s sporting director since 2020 and has even been forced to take over the reins of the first team this month as caretaker manager after the sacking of Patrick Van Leeuwen.

Srna turned down Barcelona in 2016/17

Back in 2016, when he was still playing for Shakhtar, Srna had an opportunity to sign for Barcelona.

The Catalan giants were looking for an experienced right-back at the time and had identified the Croatian as an option as his contract with Shakhtar Donetsk was expiring.

Srna, at that time, was 34 years old and had just retired from international football but was still performing at a high level, which made Barça seek his signing.

However, the former defender decided against the move after he was offered a new contract by Shakhtar Donetsk, and in a recent interview, he admitted that he does not regret his decision one bit.

“I am 100% convinced of my decision,” Srna said, as quoted by SPORT.

“I told the president that I would rather win the league with Shakhtar than the UEFA Champions League with Barça. If I had left here, I would never have forgiven myself,” he added.

Further explaining his decision, Srna stated: “When the president offered me a new contract, I just thanked him. I immediately accepted the proposal. Yes, I was wanted by Barcelona, but as I have said in the past, my heart is here.

“I am happy at Shakhtar. For me, it’s a family.”

Srna could have joined Barcelona in 2016 (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

On accepting the managerial role

As mentioned earlier, Srna is currently the caretaker manager for Shakhtar, having taken over earlier this month.

He has managed just one match for the Ukrainian champions and his second game in charge will be against Barcelona.

Explaining what made him accept the offer from the club, he said: “I accepted Shakhtar’s offer because it’s my family, and when the family is going through a difficult time you have to help.”

“I told them that I am not Guardiola or Klopp, I am Darijo Srna, I don’t have much coaching experience but I have a miner’s heart and that heart has told me that I have to help in a difficult situation for the country and for Shakhtar.”

Barcelona will host Shakhtar Donetsk at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on Wednesday night, with a number of key players set to miss the encounter.

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