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East Bengal sign Croatian stopper Franjo Prce

Prce, who has played a match for Lazio senior team, has joined East bengal from Croatian club NK Slaven Belupo. Slovenian midfielder Amir Dervišević and Tomislav Mrcela are the two overseas recruits.

“I have played with some of the big names in world football and it has helped me grow on and off the field. I think I can use my experience here in the ISL and try to help my team do well,” he said.

“I am eagerly waiting to experience India and I also know this club has a massive fan base. It’s a shame that they can’t be with us in the stands but we will play for them. We always play for the fans.”

At Lazio, Prce shared the locker room with the likes of former Germany striker Miroslav Klose and Ciro Immobile who earlier this year helped Italy win the European Championships. Inter Milan centre-back Stefan de Vrij was also with Lazio during that time as was Italy’s Antonio Candreva and Lucas Biglia of Argentina.

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Born in Čapljina in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prce started his career with the youth academy of Croatian club Hajduk Split. After his stint in Italy, Prce moved to Croatian club Istra 1961 again on a loan deal before shifting base to Cyprus where he turned out for AC Omonia.

Prce also had spells with FC Karpaty Lviv in Ukraine besides playing for NK Varaždin and NK Slaven Belupo at home in Croatia. Prce was included in the Croatian under-17 team for the 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championships.

He also featured for the team in the 2013 FIFA under17 World Cup. Prce is a no-nonsense defender who will add to the squad’s experience despite being only 25 years of age. The six foot tall footballer is well travelled and has played with and against the best. SC East Bengal take on Jamshedpur FC in their opening game of the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22 season, on November 21 at the Tilak Maidan.

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