Milan Badelj

Milan Badelj (Croatian pronunciation: [mǐlan bǎdeʎ];[3][4] born 25 February 1989) is a Croatian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Genoa and the Croatia national team. He is a member of the Croatian squad that finished runners-up in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Milan Badelj
Badelj representing Croatia in 2015
Personal information
Full name Milan Badelj[1]
Date of birth (1989-02-25) 25 February 1989 (age 32)
Place of birth Zagreb, SR Croatia,
Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)[2]
Position(s) Defensive midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 47
Youth career
1995–2002 Ponikve
2002–2005 NK Zagreb
2005–2007 Dinamo Zagreb
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2007–2012 Dinamo Zagreb 113 (25)
2007–2008Lokomotiva (loan) 28 (7)
2012–2014 Hamburger SV 62 (2)
2014–2018 Fiorentina 108 (6)
2018–2020 Lazio 23 (1)
2019–2020Fiorentina (loan) 22 (1)
2020– Genoa 22 (1)
National team
2004 Croatia U16 1 (0)
2004–2005 Croatia U17 28 (2)
2005–2006 Croatia U18 5 (0)
2006–2008 Croatia U19 13 (0)
2009 Croatia U20 2 (0)
2008–2010 Croatia U21 14 (0)
2010– Croatia 55 (2)
Men's football
Representing  Croatia
FIFA World Cup
Runner-up2018 Russia
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:18, 19 March 2021 (UTC).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 18:43, 1 June 2021 (UTC)

Club career

Early career

Milan Badelj signed for Dinamo Zagreb as a 17-year-old in 2007, just after he was snapped up from the youth system of Dinamo Zagreb's city rival, NK Zagreb. For the 2007–08 season, he was sent on loan to Dinamo Zagreb's affiliate Lokomotiva to gain first–team experience at the senior level. He played in 28 matches and scored seven goals for Lokomotiva in the Croatian Third League.

Dinamo Zagreb

Badelj playing for Dinamo Zagreb in April 2009

At an early age, Badelj was already spotted as a possible replacement for Luka Modrić, a key figure in the Dinamo Zagreb first-team squad that joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2008.[5]

In 2008, Badelj joined the first team and immediately established himself as an important player. He made his senior debut for Dinamo in Champions League qualifier against Northern Irish club Linfield. He then made his domestic debut in the opening match of the 2008–09 season against Rijeka, scoring the first goal in 2–0 victory.[6] He finished his first season with Dinamo with 31 domestic appearances and 12 UEFA Cup appearances.

Badelj continued to impress at his young age, establishing himself as a first–team regular for the 2009–10 season. In March 2011, he scored a goal in a 2–0 victory in the derby match against great rivals Hajduk Split.[7] Badelj continued with impressive performances in the 2010–11 season as well, even wearing the captain's armband in some matches.[8][9]

In the 2011–12 season, Badelj was one of the key players in the Dinamo squad that reached the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time in 12 years. He appeared in all six of Dinamo's group stage games against Real Madrid, Lyon and Ajax.[10]

In what would be his final game at the Stadion Maksimir for Dinamo, in a Champions League playoff match against Slovenian side Maribor, Badelj scored an own goal that gave the opposition an equaliser in the first leg match. However, Badelj later scored the winning goal at the other end in the second half.[11]

Hamburger SV

Badelj with Hamburger SV in 2013

Badelj joined Hamburger SV of the Bundesliga in August 2012 for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of €4.5 million, according to the Croatian media.[12] He made his domestic debut soon after joining the club in a match against Werder Bremen. He soon established himself as a first-team regular, typically operating as a deep-lying playmaker.[13] Badelj scored his first Bundesliga goal against Schalke 04, in a 3–1 win, on 27 November 2012.[14]


On 31 August 2014, it was announced Badelj had signed for Serie A side Fiorentina for a fee believed to be in the region of €5 million.[15] In 2018, after the tragic death of Davide Astori (who had unexpectedly died in the night between March 3 and March 4 due to a cardiac arrest), he was appointed as team captain.


Badelj joined Lazio on 1 August 2018, on a free transfer.[16] On 17 February 2019, he scored his first goal for the club in a 2–1 loss to Genoa.

Loan to Fiorentina

On 5 August 2019, Badelj joined Fiorentina on loan until 30 June 2020 with an option to buy.[17] On 3 September 2019 he wore captain armband in 1–1 draw against Parma, despite being a loaned player, due to absence of regular captain Germán Pezzella. It was the first time for Badelj to being captain since his comeback. Fiorentina chose not to activate the obligation and Badelj returned to Lazio at the end of the spell.


On 16 September 2020, Badelj signed a three-year contract with Genoa.[18]

On February 20, 2021, he scored his first goal for the club, as he equalized at the last minute of a match against Hellas Verona: in that occasion, he celebrated by recreating the number 13 with his fingers pointed to the sky, as a way to pay tribute to his late friend and former team-mate Davide Astori (in fact, the Italian defender had used to wear the number 13 shirt until his tragic death).[19]

International career

During his youth career for the national team, Badelj earned a total of 63 caps, for all youth teams from U16 to U21.

In 2010, Badelj was selected for the Croatia national team squad for the first time, but was mostly on the bench. His competitive debut came during a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying match against Malta; a match Croatia won 3–1, on 2 September 2011, in which Badelj scored the second goal.[20] He was selected for the UEFA Euro 2012 squad;[21] and in May 2014, was selected for the final squad at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil following an injury to Ivan Močinić.[22] However, he was an unused substitute for most of the tournament, as Croatia were knocked out in the group stage. He was selected for UEFA Euro 2016.[23]

In May 2018, Badelj was selected for the final 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.[24] He scored his first goal of the tournament in a 2–1 win over Iceland; helping Croatia en route to topping the group on maximum points.[25][26] On 1 July, in Croatia's round of sixteen tie with Denmark, the game was drawn 1–1 and was decided through a penalty shootout in which Badelj missed Croatia's first penalty, though they would scored three while their opponents only scored two.[27]

Career statistics


As of match played 22:03, 19 March 2021 (UTC).[28]
Club performance League Cup Other Continental Total
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
Croatia League Croatian Cup Other Europe Total
2007–08Lokomotiva (loan)Treća HNL287287
2008–09Dinamo ZagrebPrva HNL31471121506
2010–11296831[lower-alpha 1]0110499
Germany League DFB-Pokal Other Europe Total
2012–13Hamburger SVBundesliga311311
2013–14291402[lower-alpha 2]0351
Italy League Coppa Italia Other Europe Total
2014–15FiorentinaSerie A21130130371
2019–20Fiorentina (loan)22120241
2020–21Genoa (loan)22110231
Total Lokomotiva 287000000287
Dinamo 113252371052518937
HSV 6225020692
Fiorentina 1307802601647
Career total 374433774080549455


As of 1 June 2021[29]

International goals

Scores and results list Croatia's goal tally first.
12 September 2011Ta' Qali National Stadium, Attard, Malta Malta
UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying
226 June 2018Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Russia Iceland
2018 FIFA World Cup



Dinamo Zagreb[28]







  1. "2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: List of Players" (PDF). FIFA. 11 June 2014. p. 12. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  2. "2018 FIFA World Cup Russia – List of Players" (PDF). FIFA. 4 June 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  3. "Mìlan". Hrvatski jezični portal (in Croatian). Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  4. "bàdelj". Hrvatski jezični portal (in Croatian). Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  5. "Milan Badelj – Modrićev nasljednik" (in Croatian). Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  6. "Badelj novi junak Maksimira" (in Croatian). HRSport. Retrieved 27 July 2008.
  7. "Golovi i igra vrijedni naslova prvaka" (in Croatian). HRSport. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  8. "Milan Badelj ima sve da postane kapetan plavih" (in Croatian). Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  9. "Kapetan Dinama poslao poruku BBB-ima!". (in Croatian). 10 November 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  10. "UCL - Matches". UEFA. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  11. "Badelj na oproštaju s Maksimirom pogodio za pobjedu Dinama" (in Croatian). HRSport. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  12. "Badelj predstavljen u HSV-u, debitira već u subotu: "Bit će to derbi kao Dinamo-Hajduk"" (in Croatian). Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  13. "Croatia - M. Badelj - Profile with news, career statistics and history". Soccerway. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  14. "Hamburger SV 3–1 FC Schalke 04". (in German). Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  15. "Fiorentina to sign Milan Badelj from Hamburg". Sky Sports. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  16. "Official: Lazio complete double signing". Football Italia. 1 August 2018.
  17. "UFFICIALE: Fiorentina, torna Badelj. L'annuncio di Pradè in conferenza". Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  18. "Badelj e Melegoni al Genoa: ufficiale il doppio rinforzo a centrocampo" [Badelj and Melegoni at Genoa: the double reinforcement to the midfield is official] (in Italian). 16 September 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  19. "Badelj: "Il Genoa ha un grande cuore"". Il Secolo XIX (in Italian). 20 February 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  20. "Malta - Hrvatska 1:3 (1:2)". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  21. (29 May 2012). "UEFA EURO 2016 - News – UEFA". UEFA. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  22. "Močinić se vraća kući, Badelj dolazi, Pranjić otpao za Brazil - Komentari | 24sata". (in Croatian). Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  23. "Croatia preliminary squad for EURO 2016 - Croatian Football Federation". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  24. "Revealed: Every World Cup 2018 squad - Final 23-man lists |". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  25. Burnton, Simon (26 June 2018). "Iceland 1-2 Croatia: World Cup 2018 – as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  26. "World Cup 2018: Iceland out after defeat by group winners Croatia". BBC Sport. 26 June 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  27. Bakowski, Gregg (1 July 2018). "World Cup 2018: Croatia beat Denmark on penalties – as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  28. "M. Badelj". Soccerway. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  29. Milan Badelj at
  30. McNulty, Phil (15 July 2018). "France 4–2 Croatia". BBC. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  31. "News: President Decorates Croatian National Football Team Players and Coaching Staff". Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia. 13 November 2018. Archived from the original on 9 April 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019. the Order of Prince Branimir with Ribbon was awarded to Mr. Milan Badelj...