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Joško Gvardiol: What his surname means and where it comes from

Joško Gvardiol (20) was Croatia’s hero after their draw with Belgium which sent them into the last 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 

The Croatian centre-back has been on everybody’s lips since his heroics against Belgium when he nudged the ball away from Romela Lukaku with a certain goal begging. 

With an untypical Croatian surname, many people have been wondering where his last name comes from. 

Nicknamed Pep, because of the similarity in surnames with Manchester City coach, Pep Guardiola, Croatian linguist Domagoj Vidović, who has been studying names and surnames for more than 20 years, explained to Tportal the origins and meanings of the surname of the Croatian defender. 

‘The surname Gvardiol, which originates from Novigrad near Zadar, is linked to the Roman verb guardare ‘to guard’ and is related to the well-known Catalan football surname Guardiola. It suits our defender perfectly because he is unpassable, excellent at guarding opposing attackers.

In addition, his first name also suits him because it is connected with the name Josip, which in Hebrew means Yahweh brings and Joško Yahweh truly brings many talents’, Domagoj Vidović says, before adding. 

‘It is interesting that Guardiola means guardhouse in Italian, and as the reserve players’ bench is similar to guardhouses, Joško could also be a top coach. The surname Gvardiol is an endemic surname, i.e. a surname whose bearers all come from the Zadar region. In 1948, all the Gvardiols lived in Novigrad. 

Today there are also Gvardiols in Zagreb, Zadar and on Dugi Otok, but they all come from Novigrad,’ he concluded.

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