Winning the Davis Cup for the first time in its history by beating Slovakia 3-2 in Bratislava was an achievement which reverberated around Croatia, ranking alongside the nation’s third-placed finish in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Croatia’s Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic were the on-court heroes, but the credit was shared with captain Nikki Pilic, who became the first man to lead two nations to Davis Cup success, having been captain of Germany when they won in 1988, 1989 and 1993.
It was the first time either country had made the final and Croatia are the first unseeded team ever to have won the Davis Cup.
Croatia’s most remarkable achievement was winning in Los Angeles in March – the first time the United States had lost a first round tie on home soil in 105 years of Davis Cup play. The Americans had reached the final in 2004, and against a so-called Dream Team of Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi and Bob and Mike Bryan, it was a stunning success for the Croatians.
Pilic said: "The Davis Cup is one of the greatest competitions in the world and I am so proud that my team is number one in 2005. Just because some nations are bigger, it does not mean they are better than we are. For us this is an historic moment.”