Jurcevic set for emotional return to Old Trafford

Nikola Jurcevic will have mixed emotions when he makes a return to Old Trafford on Saturday but will be hoping to celebrate another memorable away victory.

The West Ham United assistant manager was part of the Croatia side that famously reached the quarter-finals of the European Championships back in 1996.

Jurcevic will never forget the progression his side made through the tournament which saw them reach the last eight and were unlucky not to beat Germany in Manchester.

Germany opened the scoring through Jurgen Klinsmann, but Croatia hit back when Jurcevic dispossessed Steffen Freund and crossed the ball in for former Hammers striker Davor Suker to net the equaliser.

The major turning point in the game came when another former Hammer Igor Stimac was sent-off and Matthias Sammer later scored the crucial winner.

Jurcevic still believes his side could have taken something from the game and Croatia showed they could compete against the best teams in Europe.

As the Croatian coach prepares to make an emotional return to Old Trafford for the first time since that quarter-final 19-years ago, he is hoping that the Hammers players can build on their memorable away wins over Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool and claim another famous victory.

Jurcevic said: “I have very good memories of the game at Old Trafford. It was a very important game for us and great for us to play at a legendary stadium.

“The score was not great for us but we had a great performance and the whole of Europe spoke very positive about us.

“We had a very good team with the likes of Slaven Bilic and Davor Suker and we were playing a very good Germany team but we had some unfortunate moments with the penalty and red card.

“To play at Old Trafford is something special, but the result was not the best. It will be my first time back at the ground this weekend and I am looking forward to playing one of the top teams in England.

“It will be interesting and emotional for me to come back and I hope the result will be a lot better.

“We have already had some big results away from home this season and I am optimistic that we can have another good result.

“We have some players out injured but we have worked hard and we have the opportunity to have another good game in Manchester.”