Ante Rebic has had to grit his teeth and bite his tongue to forge a career at the highest level with Eintracht Frankfurt and Croatia. - © 2018 DFL
Ante Rebic has had to grit his teeth and bite his tongue to forge a career at the highest level with Eintracht Frankfurt and Croatia. - © 2019 Getty Images

Ante Rebic: 10 things on the Eintracht Frankfurt and Croatia hero

Having famously taken down Bayern Munich in the 2018 DFB Cup final and Argentina at the FIFA World Cup that same self-same year, Ante Rebic is already the stuff of Eintracht Frankfurt and Croatia legend. charts the 25-year-old forward’s sometimes turbulent rise to the top in 10 digestible tidbits...

1) 'The new Alen Boksic'

Rebic scored goals for fun in the youth ranks of Vinjani and Imotski in his native Croatia, before joining hometown club RNK Split at the age of 17.

Such was Rebic’s promise, national press soon took to calling him 'the new Alen Boksic' - the former Croatia striker who won two Serie A titles with Juventus and Lazio in the 1990s.

2) Too much, too soon

Impressed by his haul of 16 goals and six assists in 57 Croatian First League appearances, Fiorentina reportedly paid in the region of €5million for Rebic’s services in the summer of 2013. Split’s prized graduate only played four times for La Viola, however.

By his own admission: "I wasn't ready for the big step, neither physically nor mentally."

Watch: Who is Ante Rebic?

3) World Cup take I - Red mist

In the midst of his patchy domestic form, Rebic had been called up by Niko Kovac - his former U21 coach at international level - to play at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He featured in all three group matches, but his temperament got the better of him in the must-win encounter against Mexico.

Croatia conceded three goals following his second-half introduction and were later reduced to 10 men when the mercurial forward collected a straight red card for a rash challenge on Carlos Pena.

4) Leipzig discontent

A journeyman career loomed large after Rebic spent a short-lived loan spell in Bundesliga 2 with RB Leipzig.

Unhappy at starting just four games across 2014/15, he posted a picture of himself sitting on the Leipzig bench on Facebook, along with the line: "This is my new position."

Rebic showed flashes of potential upon his return to Fiorentina, where he repeated his previous tally of one goal in four Serie A outings, before making 10 appearances in the colours of Chievo during the second half of the 2015/16 campaign.

Rebic's first stint on German soil, with RB Leipzig, was something of a damp squib. - 2014 Getty Images

5) The Kovac years

By now, Rebic had amassed more cards than goals at every club he had represented.

Potential suitors outside of his homeland were dwindling, but one man never lost faith and, in summer 2016, Rebic was reunited with old mentor, Kovac, at Frankfurt.

He produced two goals and earned 10 yellow cards in 24 Bundesliga matches in his debut season of Bundesliga football.

There was also a touchline spat with Kovac after being substituted in a game against Augsburg - but Rebic lived to tell the tale… just.

6) Room at the inn?

His apartment had already been given to the new recruit Luka Jovic and even his place on the team bus had been taken by Jetro Willems, when Frankfurt offered Rebic another lifeline on summer 2017 transfer deadline day.

The Croatian repaid the club’s faith tenfold, and was in turn rewarded with his first permanent deal since joining Fiorentina midway through the 2017/18 campaign.

"He’s a big personality, like a bull, and a fantastic player," Kovac enthused. "He’s come on brilliantly here."

Rebic has since described the now Bayern coach as "the most important person in my career."

7) Bayern slayer

Rebic added six goals and two assists in 25 Bundesliga appearances to the four goals he had had a direct hand in during the previous season - but the best was yet to come.

With Frankfurt through to their first DFB Cup final for 30 years, the Bull took, well, the bull by the horns. Rebic opened and closed out the scoring as the Eagles stunned record champions Bayern, running out 3-1 winners in Kovac’s final game as boss.

The once hot head was suddenly red-hot property.

Rebic was named Man of the Match following his 2017/18 DFB Cup final heroics. - 2018 Getty Images

8) World Cup Take II - Outshines Messi

Rebic’s stock continued to rise at the 2018 World Cup. The Frankfurt No.4 started all but one of Croatia’s seven games en route to the final, opening the scoring with a sensational volley against Argentina in the groups.

"I don't even know how many messages I received after the match!" Rebic told Goal after the game.

"This was the best game I've played for Croatia and, along with the German Cup final against Bayern, the best in my career. I wanted to get Messi's jersey for my friend, who is a big fan of Leo."

9) Chance, not risk, taker

A World Cup runners-up medal in his pocket, Rebic enjoyed his best season yet in Frankfurt colours in 2018/19.

The Split sensation produced 10 goals and six assists in all competitions, forming a prolific front three alongside Jovic and Sebastien Haller as Eintracht went within a whisker of a top-four Bundesliga finish and only lost to Chelsea in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals on penalties.

It was the first time his single-season goal haul outweighed his card count since he left Croatia as a teenager.

"Tekkers!" Rebic's first goal at a major tournament and third for Croatia was one to savour. - 2018 Getty Images

10) Croatia's Usain Bolt

From Croatia’s 'new Boksic' to the The Chequered Ones' Usain Bolt, Rebic was - until very late in the 2018/19 - the joint-fastest player in last season's Bundesliga.

He blazed a trail past opposition defences with a top speed of 21.81 miles per hour, before being outdone by Hertha Berlin youngster Lukas Klünter (21.99 mph).

Just don’t expect Rebic to take the defeat lying down…