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Happy birthday to Ante Rebic! AC Milan star turns 27 today

Ante Rebic, AC Milan
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Today we celebrate the 27th birthday of AC Milan star Ante Rebic by taking a brief look back on the player’s career story.

Ante Rebic has become a famous figure in European football of late, in no small part for his impressive exploits at the 2018 World Cup for Croatia, and is a key figure for AC Milan alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The right-footed forward is famed for his physical attributes, namely in strength and pace. In fact, he finished as the World Cup’s fastest player in 2018 alongside Cristiano Ronaldo with a speed of 34 km/h.

People have also praised his link-up play, aggression, eagerness to drop deep in games, and his sublime dribbling ability in one-on-one situations.

Early days

Rebic’s football journey began with Vinjani at the youth level before joining Imotski and later RNK Split in 2010. After just a year at the youth level with the latter, he made his first-team debut against Dinamo Zagreb in May 2011. It may have only been a second-half cameo, but Ante scored to salvage a 1-1 draw all the same.

Therefore, RNK Split awarded the young forward a three-year contract and made him a permanent first-team member. A further 56 appearances came his way, along with 15 goals and six assists. It led to widespread interest across Europe and in Croatia, leading to a call-up to the national team in 2013.

Rebic made his international debut in August that year and, much like his first appearance for RNK Split, came on as a second-half substitute and scored in a 3-2 friendly win over Liechtenstein for Croatia.

Niko Kovac’s appointment as head coach then paved the way for further opportunities on the international stage, with Rebic helping Croatia qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

A difficult start to life in Serie A

The Croatian’s strong performances prompted interest from Premier League sides Tottenham and Swansea City. However, he settled on a €4.5m transfer to Fiorentina instead.

Rebic took over the No.9 jersey for La Viola and replaced an injured Giuseppe Rossi for his debut in September 2013 against Parma. Unlike his previous two debuts, however, this one didn’t have a happy ending. Not only were Fiorentina held to a draw, but he sustained an injury that sidelined him for three weeks.

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Eventually, Ante was back on track but failed to make an impact for the Serie A club. He made just four appearances in 2013/14 and later got sent off in the 2014 World Cup against Mexico.

Disappointing loan moves to RB Leipzig and Hellas Verona followed before Rebic struck gold at the third attempt in another loan stint at Eintracht Frankfurt this time.

The breakthrough

Joining the Eagles in the summer of 2016 proved an inspired move, in no small part because of Kovac being the manager. The former Croatia boss knew the potential that laid inside his compatriot and set about unleashing it.

While a brief struggle with mononucleosis delayed his debut, Rebic finally made his first appearance for Eintracht in September. He came on as a substitute and assisted Marco Fabian’s goal in the 2-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen.

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The former RNK Split star continued to impress in Germany, prompting Eintracht to sign him on a permanent €2m deal in 2018.

He later starred in the 2018 World Cup for Croatia to help the national team reach the final for the first time in history.

Rebic also played a role in Eintracht winning the DFB-Pokal while registering 25 goals and 12 assists in 100 appearances; paving the way for a return to the Serie A with AC Milan on an initial two-year loan deal.

But an impressive 2019/20 campaign, which saw him manage 11 goals and three assists in 26 league games, led the 18-time Serie A champions to make him a permanent member of their squad in September 2020.