KLAGENFURT, Austria Ivan Klasnic became the first player to take part at the European Championship after a kidney transplant, then scored in the second half to give Croatia a 1-0 Group B victory against Poland on Monday.
The 28-year-old Klasnic played as coach Slaven Bilic rested most of his usual starters, thinking ahead to the team's quarterfinal against Turkey on Friday. Having beaten Euro 2008 co-host Austria 1-0 and Germany 2-1, Croatia was already assured of first place in the group.
Klasnic received a thunderous reception from Croatia fans as he took the field. And he put in a left-footed shot in the 53rd minute to give his team the lead. He was substituted for in the 74th minute.
In January 2007, the German-born Klasnic suffered kidney failure. Shortly afterward, he received a transplant, but his body rejected the kidney donated by his mother. A couple of months later, he again underwent surgery to replace the rejected kidney with one from his father.
Nine months later, Klasnic made an emotional return to soccer with his club Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.
Klasnic has scored nine goals in 30 international appearances for Croatia.
Klasnic, who wears a fiberglass shield to protect him on the field, is one of a small number of professional athletes to return after an organ transplant. Without the protection, a kick could be life-threatening.