Slaven Bilic was in Liverpool on Saturday checking on the form of Everton striker Nikica Jelavic; on Sunday he was in London to keep tabs on Tottenham Hotspur’s Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar.

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic sets sights on Premier League after making success of national service

The coach of the Croatia national team is spending this week in England to go through his meticulous plans for the forthcoming Euro 2012 finals in which his nation has been drawn in a ‘group of death’ with Spain, Italy and the Republic of Ireland but from which he is confident of progressing.

Bilic is relishing the challenge in typically robust, straight-from-the-heart fashion. “It’s the cruelest tournament you can imagine,” he says, reflecting of the pedigree of the countries involved.

“But I know we will prepare well and let’s just say I would be very disappointed if we didn’t get through the group stage.”

But what then for the 43-year-old who has spent six years in charge of his country, an honour he has described not so much as a job but as a “duty” and a “love”, having kept them almost constantly in the top 10 Fifa rankings, where they currently sit at No 10?

“For now, the only thing I am concentrating on is watching my players ahead of the championships,” Bilic explained. “This week I am in England, in two weeks’ time I am going to be in Germany.

“All I am thinking about, all I am preparing for is the Euros. What is going to happen afterwards, we will see. But I am ready for all options.”

“All options” is an intriguing comment – so what does it mean for a man whose contract with the Croatian Federation expires after this summer’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine and who has such an impressive record as a national team coach?

In an exclusive interview with Telegraph Sport, Bilic added: “One day I would love – love, not like – to manage a club. And the Premier League is the league in the world that any manager would jump at the opportunity to work in. I watch the Premier League all the time, not only because my players are playing here but it’s the most attractive league in Europe.”

It is an interesting statement from Bilic, the first time he has admitted it, and one which might prick the ears of some Premier League chairmen.

“It’s my dream to have a successful Euros and maybe, maybe leave after that,” added the former central defender with West Ham and Everton. “I would love to have a great championship and then I am open to working elsewhere if that is what is the best for everyone.

“The situation is that my contract expires at the end of the championships.

“It would be a good time to go if that was right. If the Croatian FA wants me to stay then of course I will talk to them but I am open to talking to clubs as well.”

Having had a successful playing career in England and also Germany they are the two obvious countries for him to consider.

“I know those countries and the language and the cultures,” Bilic said. “But it depends on the club, the ambition of the club. During the six years with Croatia I have got to know most of the countries and the leagues so it wouldn’t be something unknown to me.

“We have played 60 games in say 40 different countries so I know everywhere. It doesn’t depend on the country, it depends more on the club.”

Bilic has had offers before. From clubs around Europe, including England, and other national teams but has resisted while his stock has remained high. Few forget the way in which his Croatia denied England a place in Euro 2008.

“To be fair, I have had a lot of options during the past five years but I have never wanted to leave. I showed respect to the clubs and talked to them. I didn’t negotiate but I talked to them — and I talked to some national teams but I decided to stay with Croatia, with my country, and do the job that I love.

“I don’t regret a thing and I would do the same again. But I’m very interested to work in a club. I see myself more as a club manager than as an international coach. Although this job, for me, was the best ever because I am the national coach of my country.

“It’s more than a job, it’s everything but a job. It’s personal.

“If I had options, I would definitely like to think about working in a club. It’s my wish but, of course, I am totally concentrated on the Euros and that’s the only thing I am thinking about at the moment. What happens after the Euros, we’re going to have to see.”

Bilic is hugely mindful of his position in Croatian football and it is why he is at pains to stress that he does not want to give the impression he is lacking in “commitment”.

But he is also aware that, along with Germany’s Joachim Löw, he will be the longest-serving national team coach at this summer’s tournament.

“Of course it would have been different if I had only been there with Croatia for a couple of years, I have been there for six years and that’s a long time for an international coach,” Bilic explained.

“No one, apart from Morten Olsen at Denmark, who has been there for 10 years, it’s only me and Low in Germany who have been there for six years.

“For example, three weeks ago we were at a big meeting of all the managers who are going to the Euros in Warsaw and they mentioned that only me and Low were the managers in 2008. I’ve done my duty, I feel.

“I want to work day-to-day with the players. There are big differences between being a club manager and an international manager.

“With a club you have more options, more time and you have the team more. I know that because I was a club manager, OK it was in Croatia but it was a big club, my club, Hajduk Split, so I know what it’s like. And I would like to do it again.”