Miroslav Blazevic, Croatia’s famous football coach who led the country to third place at the 1998 World Cup, died on Wednesday, according to the national football federation. He was 87.
The federation wrote on social media –
“The whole football family has lost ‘the coach of all coaches’ today.”
Blazevic died in Zagreb after a long battle with cancer, which made a lot of people sad.
Zlatko Dalic, the coach of the Croatian national team, paid his respects by saying that he mourned his “football father… a true inspiration for everything I’ve done in my coaching career.”
Dalic said in a statement, referring to Blazevic by his popular nickname –
“Ciro was unique — an unsurpassed motivator and speaker… a man with great style and an even bigger soul and that’s why we all loved and respected him.”
Blazevic was born on February 10, 1935, and he began playing in his hometown of Travnik, which is near Bosnia.
He started coaching in Switzerland in the early 1960s. In 1979, he moved to Croatia, which was then part of the former Yugoslavia.
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In Croatia, he coached Rijeka and then Dinamo Zagreb. At Dinamo Zagreb, he led the team to the Yugoslav championship for the first time in 24 years.
Blazevic’s popularity at home went up after he won the title. He was known for wearing white scarves, which were in style at the time.
Blazevic told local media in 2021 –
“Dinamo’s 1982 win was the crown of my coaching career.”
From 1994 to 2000, Blazevic was in charge of the national team and led them to a number of impressive wins, including a third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup in France.
After years of fighting during Croatia’s independence war from 1991 to 1995, which was part of the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, the end gave the country a much-needed boost.
During the 1998 World Cup, Blazevic became famous for wearing a French gendarme’s hat during games. He did this to show support for a security officer who was seriously hurt by German football hooligans during the tournament.
Blazevic was popular in the former Yugoslavia long after he retired in 2015. He was eloquent, charismatic, and was known for his ability to motivate people.
Dalic dedicated Croatia’s win in the third-place match at the World Cup in Qatar in December to Blazevic, who was fighting cancer back in Zagreb.
Dalic said after beating Morocco –
“This is for you, boss. I can win five medals but you will always remain the ‘coach of all coaches'”
Blazevic, on the other hand, did not do as well at the polls. In 2005, when he ran for president of Croatia, he got less than one percent of the vote.