At some point, Mijat Maric couldn’t stay in his seat behind the substitutes’ bench: In the final phase, he went to his teammates at FC Lugano to enjoy the final minutes of the cup final with them, arm in arm, the clear 4-1 win against St. Gallen in mind. When the referee blows his whistle and the first Ticino Cup victory since 1993 is a fact, Maric jumps and runs around like a youngster – pure ecstasy!
The man is 38 years old, behind Guillaume Hoarau the oldest professional in the Super League. In the cup final he is absent from the match sheet due to an injury – during the week Maric and the medical department of the Luganesi tried everything, but it wasn’t enough: he has to watch the biggest game in the club’s recent history. How was it?
“Much more difficult than when I’m on the pitch myself. I suffered extremely,” Maric told Blick. With his experience, however, he also felt that this day would end well: “We were clear and calm from the first second, the equalizer to make it 1-1 didn’t hurt us.”
Farewell to the big stage?
For the defensive dinosaur with over 500 professional games in his legs, it is the third cup win of his career, twice he won the title in Belgium with former club Lokeren. Although he can’t play against St. Gallen, Maric played a big part in the cup coup: in the semi-final against Lucerne (win after a penalty shoot-out) he was on the pitch from A to Z.
Is the success with Lugano the perfect end to the long career for the Ticino? At the moment of triumph, Maric only thinks about celebrating: “I’m a quiet guy. But today it’s going to be wild! Then we’ll see everything else.”
First title in 29 years! Wild Luganesi party after cup victory(02:38)
After the celebrations in the Wankdorf Stadium, Maric is one of the last Ticino players to go into the dressing room. The centre-back enjoys the dip in the crowd, fulfilling every selfie wish, proudly presenting the gold medal and pausing once more as the fans chant his name.
It all has something of a farewell to it – on the really big stage. It can at least be doubted whether FC Lugano will offer a 38-year-old a new contract. At least not as a player: Because Maric, who is well liked in the club, should take on a different role after his playing career in Lugano. That seems a matter of form.