As the sports director of Shakhtar in Croatia, Dario Srna had a decision to make with both his mind and heart. Just days after sitting on the bench as an assistant coach for the champions of Ukraine, he was given the opportunity to take charge of the team for their Champions League match against Barcelona. Srna had known Mario Stanić, who was now head coach at Shakhtar, since their days on the Croatian national team. Stanić replaced Srna in the position of right back and agreed to step aside until a coaching solution was found.
“I have known Dario for 30 years,” said Srna. “We played together for Croatia and won the bronze medal at the World Championship in 1998. He was younger than me, more technically sound and faster. He also helped my decision to leave the national team.”
Srna’s time as head coach was brief but successful. The team celebrated against Barcelona just days after he took charge, making it a memorable debut on the bench for Srna. Despite his experience as an assistant coach, he felt nervous about taking on this new role and responsibility.
“I think I decided within half an hour,” said Srna. “The coach called me and asked if I was sure, if his decision was final. When he said yes, I felt something inside me and told him I would come.”
Srna’s quick decision paid off as he led Shakhtar to victory against one of Europe’s biggest clubs in what proved to be a memorable moment in his career as both a player and a manager.