Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak will return to action for Slovenia for the upcoming Euro qualifiers this week after having missed their six Uefa Nations League fixtures between September and November last year due to voluntary absence.
And in an interview with Slovenian daily Ekipa, the goalkeeper has spoken about the reason behind his three-month absence from the national setup.
“I had to make a decision in autumn not to play for one reason: my physical condition,” said the 26-year-old. “It was difficult to be available for Atlético. I was in a lot of pain and had to play with painkillers. And playing with the national team would have been too much.”
"It’s true that certain things happened" - Oblak
Oblak also addressed rumours that began circulating in Slovenia that his absence was due to a bad relationship he had with the former coach Tomaz Kavcic, who was sacked last October and replaced by Matjaž Kek.
“The decision would have been taken with any coach,” he assured. “It’s true that certain things happened and I won’t hide that. But I won’t speak about them. I’m not going to comment about those things in the media.”
Oblak also assured he is in a much better physical state and ready to face Israel and Macedonia in the first two opening Euro qualifiers, adding that he has so far had no ill-feeling towards him from his team mates over his voluntary absence, despite what he has read in the media.
“My physical condition is better now and I feel fine. With regards to the captain’s armband… the coach will decide. If a team mate has felt bad about my decision, he must tell me and we will look for a solution. I have been in contact with players from the national team and nobody has told me anything. I only read the rumours about the unease in the media,” he explained.
Oblak putting a dark week with Atlético behind him
After a dark week with Atlético – during which the club was eliminated from the Champions League by Juventus and lost to Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga, effectively ending any chances of catching leaders Barcelona – Oblak will switch his focus to helping Slovenia and hopes his team mates can also help to lift his spirits.
“It has been a very difficult week for me. We had dreams and all of them have been wiped out in the space of one week,” he told Ekipa.
“All of this year’s hard work has been in vain, but you also learn from these things. I will now try to be positive and help the national team. But I may also need someone to help me with good humour and a few jokes. I need that.”