Australian defender Tomislav Mrčela has capped off an impressive debut in the top flight of Croatian football by joining, NK Lokomotiva. He joins on a free transfer from relegated Hrvatski Dragovoljac on a four year deal.
Despite interest elsewhere in Croatia and abroad, Mrčela felt this was the best move for his development.
“Hajduk wanted me but I chose Lokomotiva because I feel I can improve there more,” revealed the towering defender.
The club has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last decade when they became a feeder club to Dinamo Zagreb in 2006. Three consecutive promotions and a lot of investment later, Lokomotiva found themselves in the 1.HNL for the 2009/10 season. This led to official ties with Dinamo being severed.
Lokomotiva finished a disappointing fifth this season after being runners-up to Dinamo in the 2012/13 season. A negative goal difference this past season means the signing of Mrčela is one that the club see as being crucial to suring up their defence next season.
“After Rijeka and Dinamo, they’re probably the best team in the league,” the centre back said.
Although official ties no longer exist between Lokomotiva and Dinamo the two clubs do enjoy a good relationship which often sees players from Dinamo joining Lokomotiva on-loan. So eyes from the Croatian powerhouse will be on every game of the Lokosi.
“They are like a second team of Dinamo (Zagreb) so if I play as well as I did last season, I’m close to Dinamo,” said Mrčela.
The West Australian native won’t be the only Aussie at the club either. The Executive Director of the century old club is Dennis Gudasic who hails from Geelong.
“I met him but I didn’t know about it until yesterday,” admitted Mrcela, the now Lokomotiva defender.