For a small nation of around just 4 million people and 100,000 registered players, Croatia has punched above its weight with major success in football, winning both silver and bronze medals at the World Cup.
One of the key things in the nation’s success is the ability to develop world-class players at home. Local Croatian clubs have also supplied Europe’s top clubs with dozens and dozens of players over the years.
Last season, Croatia had a player in the UEFA Champions League final for the 8th year in a row. This season, seven Croatians were involved in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
Croatians in the UEFA Champions League final
2012 – Ivica Olic
2013 – Mario Mandzukic
2014 – Luka Modric
2015 – Ivan Rakitic
2016 – Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic
2017 – Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Mario Mandzukic
2018 – Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Dejan Lovren
2019 – Dejan Lovren
Romeo Jozak, the former Technical Director of the Croatian Football Federation who has worked in almost every role in Croatian football, including working with Dinamo Zagreb’s famous Youth Academy, joined Saul Isaksson-Hurst from Inside the Academy for a webinar where he presented how to develop Champions League players, the Croatian way.
Among other things, Jozak discusses the Croatian development concept, and the competition structure in Croatia and how that helps to develop players.
You can watch the episode below.