Rukavina started his career at a young age with hometown club HNK Šibenik and eventually, his performances drew attention of some big names in Europe, notably Lyon and Arsenal. It was rumoured that Lyon offered 12 million euros for Rukavina. After impressive performances as a youngster, he moved to Hajduk Split in 2007 where he showed much promise for the Croatian giants. However, he was criticized for his inconsistency and inability to find his natural scoring touch, faded from Hajduk's first team.
On July 5, 2008, he was signed by Greek side Panathinaikos FC who saw him as having potentially a part in building up their offensive lineup for the 2009 season. The 4 year deal was reported to be worth 2,800,000 €
A key player for the Croatian national under-21 team, Rukavina was called up to the senior side squad for the first time on March 12, 2007,but to date has not played for his country at full level. However, many consider him to be a future star for the national side.
He is known for his speed and often used to say that athletics are his second favourite sport, especially 100m sprint. He is very fast with the ball and has excellent technique. Also he plays great in the air and has great playmaker abilities.