Damien Duff has claimed Croatia's development at youth level is one of the reasons why Ireland can't replicate their success.
Damien Duff was speaking on RTÉ ahead of Croatia's World Cup semi-final against Argentina, as they attempt to reach their second successive final.
For a small country with the population of just over four million, Croatia have been able to constantly perform at the biggest stage. Not only that, but they have also been able to produce players with great technical ability, such as Luka Modric.
The likes of Modric, Mario Mandzukic, who is retired from international football, and Ivan Perisic are at the end of their careers. However, this tournament has shown they are producing young talent, with Josko Gvardiol, who is likely to be sold for a huge fee after an exceptional tournament.
Damien Duff On Croatia's Success
Despite Ireland having a similar population to Croatia, it's fair to say they are nowhere near on the same level.
Despite showing promising signs under Stephen Kenny, it still looks like a long period of transition to bring the team to where they need to be.
Speaking before today's semi-final, Damien Duff was asked by Joanne Cantwell on why Ireland can't produce this level of success.
The Shelbourne manager claimed the work Croatia do at youth level is a huge factor behind Croatia's success we have seen over the last four years.
You should be ringing Abbottstown for starters, not me. It doesn't rule with me for starters.
Croatia continually produce players. Players win games, players that are playing tonight. It comes back to finance, there's not a lot of money in the game here for sure. Coaching and coaching hours.
If you go back to 2011, Dinamo Zagreb were awarded for being one of the top six academies in Europe, and you can see why. Ten plus players in every squad. I think in 2018, there was 14 or 15 in the squad all produced from Dinamo Zagreb.
They produce good players, good players win football matches. It comes down to starting at youth level."
Interesting comments from Damien Duff on Croatia's success, with players making a name for themselves every two years.
While Ireland are competitive on more sports than Croatia, they have provided a perfect template for the FAI at youth level.