Stipe Pletikosa is a Croatian goalkeeper who donned his country's jersey at the tender age of 20. It was a debut that won both applause as well as brickbats for the young lad. The praise came for his quick reflexes and for the speed with each Pletikosa moved in front of the goal line; the criticism was directed at his inability to handle high balls, despite a 193 cm frame.
This weakness cost the under-21 Croatian team dearly in the 2000 European championship. The team came last thanks to some clumsy work by Pletikosa under the bars.
The wounded Pletikosa took the help of a former Croatian coach Mirko Jozi to overcome his weakness. His hard work paid off and he was soon back as his country's first-choice goalkeeper at the 2002 World Cup finals. It was a good return too for Pletikosa managed to block or deflect several high balls in the three games he played.
An injury saw Pletikosa lose the first goalkeeper's position to Tomislav Butina at the Euro 2004. But Pletikosa was no pushover. He was back in his country's squad for the 2006 World Cup finals.
Besides his country, Pletikosa has played for Hajduk Split and Shakhtar Donetsk.
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