Croatia is proud to have so many successful athletes and teams.
Let us introduce you to the most famous names and successes of Croatian
sports in it's history...
This is, certainly, Croatia's most popular sport.
It' began developing in the beginning of the 20th century,
and Croatian football federation was formed in 1912. Croatian teams and
players played in the league of former Yugoslavia with the exception of
1941-1945 when Croatian league existed for five years.
Despite the privileges that the other clubs
had, Croatian clubs, especially Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb (now called
Croatia) were always on top having not just sports, but a certain political
value, being a way of expressing Croatian nationality. In addition to
many domestic titles, Dinamo Zagreb won the Fairs cup (now called UEFA
cup) in 1967.
Croatian players also participated in the national
team successes. Drazen Jerkovic was the best scorer of the World Championship
in Chile (1966), and the names of Bernard Vukas, Josip Skoblar, and others
are written in all football history books.
Nowadays, Croatia has it's own league with twelve
teams, which are participating in the Europan cups. But, the most important
is that Croatia has a national team, which played the first match against
USA in October, 1990. In just eight years, Croatia grew up into one of
the world's football forces. National team's reputation was built in EURO
'96 qualifying group with beating Italy, then by good presentation in
England '96, but most of all, by amazing success on the World championship
in France '98 where they've won third place, being just a step from the
The names of Croatian players are known to all
football fans in the world: The best scorer of the WC, Davor Suker plays
for Real Madrid, just like Robert Jarni. Zvonimir Boban is the AC Milan's
star, Alen Boksic after Marseille and Juventus, now resides in Lazio,
while Robert Prosinecki, who played in both Real and Barcelona, heads
Croatia Zagreb. Also, there are many young players that are close to becoming
famous players: Dario Simic, Silvio Maric, Igor Tudor...
This is sport is probably the one with most successes
and talents for our country. Our clubs dominated the championship in the
former Yugoslavia, primarily Cibona Zagreb, but also Jugoplastika Split
(now called just Split) and Zadar. Nevertheless, our teams were successful
in the European club competitions. The biggest successes were European
champions titles of Cibona in years '85 and '86, while Split was the champion
in '89, '90, and '91. Also, Cibona was two times Cup winners cup champion
('82 and '87) and once Radivoj Korac's cup champion ('72) while Split
won the Korac's cup two times ('76 and '77). To describe the domination
of Croatian clubs in Yugoslavian domestic competitions, let's just say
that Croatian clubs won eight out of ten last championships (from '82
The national team was very successfull
Croatian players were always the leaders: Cosic,
Jerkov, Knego, Nakic, Solman, then later D. Petrovic, Kukoc, Radja, Vrankovic...
- Olympic Games: Moscow '80 - gold medal
- World Championships: 1970, 1978, 1990 - gold medals
- European Championships: 1973, 1975,1977,1989,1991 - gold medals
Croatian championship and cup was established
in '92, and Croatia has two teams in European league. The Croatian national
team was formed in '92, when they've made the biggest success in history
of Croatian basketball, reaching the finals of Olympic games '92. Of course,
they couldn't go further, facing the best team ever made: Dream Team I.
After a tragical death of Drazen Petrovic, Croatia won third place on
EC in Munich '93, then repeated that at the WC in Toronto next year, and
at the EC '95 in Athens.
Talking of the Croatian players, one man deserves
a chapter for himself. Drazen Petrovic, born in Sibenik, is considered
the best European player ever, something like "European Michael Jordan".
He started in Sibenik, and with just 18 years, led his team to the championship
title which was later taken away. Then he moved to Cibona and led them
to two straight titles in Europe, played an excellent season in Real Madrid,
and went to NBA, being of the best scorers in the league playing for New
Jersey Nets (before that for Portland Trail Blazers). He was also a true
basketball and spiritual leader to the national team in it's beginnings.
Drazen died in road accident in Germany, 1993. His statue was placed in
the Olympic park in Lausanne.
Kresimir Cosic, another famous player, resides
in Hall of fame, Toni Kukoc, won three European titles with Jugoplastika
Split, and then three NBA titles with Chicago Bulls, being a part of a,
probably, best NBA team ever. Dino Radja also made a great NBA career
in Boston Celtic, and two more Croatians, Zan Tabak and Stojko Vrankovic,
played in the best league of the world. Other Croatian players, like Arijan
Komazec, are very much known and respected all over Europe.
Croatia was always one of the biggest handball
forces in the world. Croatian clubs were the first in former Yugoslavia,
just like the athletes were the ones to carry national team. The biggest
successes those years are connected to the Olympics. On the first appearance
of handball on the Olympics, Yugoslavia won the gold medal (Munchen '72
- Arslanagic, Horvat, Zorko, Miljak...). just like in Los Angeles '84
(Basic, Jurina, Zorko). Also, the team won the WC gold in '86, headed
by two Croatians, Saracevic and Smajlagic. Partizan Bjelovar won the Champions
cup in '71, and women club Kras won the EHF cup in '91.
In independent Croatia, the national team won
the bronze at the EC in Portugal, silver at the WC in Iceland '95, and
the first gold for Croatia at the Olympic games in Atlanta '96. The club
Badel 1862 Zagreb was two times Europan champion ('92 and '93), and also
three times played in the finals. Most of these successes are made by
famous players: Patrik Cavar, Irfan Smajlagic, Zlatko Saracevic, Valter
Matosevic, Goran Perkovac, Iztok Puc, Slavko Goluza, Ratko Tomljanovic,
Nenad Kljajic, and others. Women club Podravka from Koprivnica won one
European championship '96, and year before played in the finals.
Also, it has to be mentioned, that Croatia will
host the European handball championship for men in 2000. It will be a
great opportunity for another handball success and a promotion of our
Croatia was always a homeland of good tennis players.
The names of Boro Jovanovic, Zeljko Franulovic, Nikola Pilic were famous
in '70s, Bruno Oresar and Goran Prpic were good in '80s, while the best
Croatian player ever, Goran Ivanisevic, dominates in '90s. He's best ranking
was second place, several times, he won more than twenty tournament titles,
and played three times in the Wimbledon finals. He was also a permanent
member of TOP 10 from '92 to '96. He is known by a powerful serve and
also very popular with tennis fans because of the way he fights for every
ball in his matches.
In 2006 Croatia won the Davis Cup with Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic.
The ladies are also good, and the best things
is yet to come. Iva Majoli is only 21, and has already been a member of
TOP 10 for a long time, and another young talent, Mirjana Lucic, who is
only 16, still has a lot of place and time to progress in the world of
Croatia had many good boxers in past, best of
those were Mate Parlov, Marijan Benes, and Zeljko Mavrovic. Zeljko is
still fighting, and he was undefeated for five years of his professional
career. He was the European champion and defended that title for five
times, and then lost the fight with Lennox Lewis for the world title in
We were always successful in water sports, like
swimming and waterpolo. The Croatian waterpolo league is probably the
best in the world, and Mladost, just like Jadran won the European title
in '90s. Also, Croatian national team won silver at the Olympics '96.
One of the best Croatian athletes ever, Matija
Ljubek, was very successfull in Cayak-canoe, bringing the Olympic medals
in '70s and '80s.
Best Croatian table tennis player, Zoran Primorac,
is one of the best in the world, for many years, and he keeps winning
medals on EC's and WC's.
Croatia also has a skiing champion, Janica Kostelic, who has won 6
Olympic medals (four gold and two silver) in Salt Lake City 2002 and Torino 2006.