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Miroslav Blažević

Miroslav Blažević
Full nameMiroslav Blažević
Date of birth (1935-02-10) 10 February 1935 (age 81)
Place of birthTravnik, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Playing positionMidfielder
Club information
Current team
Free agent
Youth career
Senior career*
1957-1958Dinamo Zagreb
1958-1959FK Sarajevo
1966-1968Hajduk Split
Teams managed
1980–1983Dinamo Zagreb
1986FK Priština
1986–1988Dinamo Zagreb
1992–1994Dinamo Zagreb
2002–2003Dinamo Zagreb
2005Hajduk Split
2005–2006Neuchâtel Xamax
2006–2008NK Zagreb
2008–2009Bosnia and Herzegovina
2009–2010Shanghai Shenhua
2010–2011China U23
2011–2012Mes Kerman
2012–2013NK Zagreb
2014Sloboda Tuzla

Miroslav "Ćiro" Blažević (Croatian pronunciation: [mǐroslaʋ t͡ɕǐːro blǎːʒeʋit͡ɕ]; born 10 February 1935) is a Bosnian Croat football manager.

His most successful period was with Croatia national football team, which he led to quarter-finals in the 1996 European championship and won third place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Parallel to his coaching, Blažević also maintains an off-and-on political career in Croatia where he is known as trener svih trenera (the "coach of all coaches").

Football career

Early career

Blažević was born to a Bosnian Croat family in Travnik, Drina Banovina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia. His career as a player was, by his own admission, average; therefore, he began his coaching career at a relatively early age. As a player, he played for Dinamo Zagreb, Lokomotiva Zagreb, Zagreb, Rijeka, Sarajevo, and Sion. He started as a coach where he ended his playing days—in Switzerland. He first led FC Vevey (1968–71)[1] then his former team FC Sion (1971–76), FC Lausanne-Sport (1976–79) and finally Switzerland's national team (as interim coach for two games in 1976).[2]

Success with Dinamo

Blažević returned to Yugoslavia in 1978 to coach Rijeka. After finishing 10th with Rijeka in the 1978–79 season, Blažević took over Dinamo Zagreb, one of Yugoslavia's big four clubs (the other three being Hajduk Split, Red Star Belgrade and Partizan) in 1980. After a mediocre first season, in which Dinamo finished 5th, Ćiro became an instant club legend in the 1981–82, winning the first Yugoslav league title for the Zagreb outfit after a 24-year drought.

Next year, Dinamo won the Yugoslav Cup and led a long battle with Partizan and Hajduk in the league. Partizan became 1983 champions and Blažević left Dinamo for the first time.

Blažević went back to Switzerland, winning the Swiss Championship with Grasshopper-Club Zurich in 1984. After that, he briefly coached Greek club PAOK Thessaloniki in 1985. In 1986, Ćiro was once again in Yugoslavia, this time as manager of Kosovo's KF Prishtina. Under Ćiro's command Prishtina achieved First Division status.

In the same year he became Dinamo Zagreb's coach for second time; during this period he failed to accomplish any significant results and therefore left again in 1988. His next team was FC Nantes of France; Ćiro was there until 1990.

Croatia tenure

In the 1990s, with Croatia gaining independence, Ćiro joined the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and became President Tuđman's admirer and close friend. For the third time he became Dinamo (then named NK Croatia Zagreb) coach and president at the same time. Ćiro won the 1993 Croatian Championship and 1994 Croatian Cup, but then left his favorite club once more, citing his reasons for doing so as needing to focus on managing the Croatian national team.

Ćiro was national team manager from 1994 on a part-time basis, but only a year later it became a full-time job as Croatia faced its first qualifying ciclus for the European Championship. Croatia won the first place in qualifying group, sensationally ahead of Italy and directly entered Euro 96 in England. Blažević was about to gain some worldwide fame.

Croatia passed group stage with wins against Turkey and current European champions Denmark and loss to Portugal, to face Germany in quarter-finals. Germany won 2–1 and went on to win the event, but Ćiro and Croatians claimed that the Swedish referee Leif Sundell was somewhat biased towards the Germans.

However, greatest things lay ahead, as Croatia was trying to qualify to the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. They won second place in the qualifying group behind Denmark and ousted Ukraine in a play-off for the tournament.

1998 World Cup

The Croatian squad of 1998 was full of accomplished players who played for top European clubs, including the likes of Zvonimir Boban, Davor Šuker and Slaven Bilić, and they were well led by Blažević. In France they created one of the greatest all-time World Cup sensations by winning the third place play-off. In the group stage, Croatia eliminated Japan and Jamaica, suffering a non-significant loss to Argentina in the final game. In the knockout stages they passed by Romania, winning 1–0 from a penalty kick. This prepared them for a quarter-final against Germany. Ćiro and the Croatians got their revenge with a shocking 3–0 win that stunned the world. However, Croatia were stopped by the hosts France in semis; a somewhat undeserved 2–1 defeat to the eventual champions. It should be noted that Blažević made a critical coaching decision in that semi-final as he failed to insert his most talented player Robert Prosinečki when the game was in the balance at 1–1. Instead he opted for Silvio Marić to replace the injured Boban after halftime and Croatia eventually lost the game 2–1. In the third-place match, Prosinečki started and immediately made his presence felt by scoring the first goal and delivering a wonderful defence splitting pass which resulted in Croatia's second goal. Croatia won against Holland 2–1 to claim the bronze. Just like in 1982, Ćiro was again the national hero and number one.

The rest of his stint as Croatian manager was not so successful. Croatia failed to qualify for Euro 2000, after finishing a disappointing third in a qualifying group behind FR Yugoslavia and Ireland. Ćiro retained his position and began to build a new team, filled with younger players for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. However, after Croatia opened the qualifiers with two draws, he was forced to resign in autumn 2000.

Iran tenure and return to Croatia

Well known throughout the football world for his 1998 World Cup sensation, Ćiro accepted an offer to lead the Iranian national team midway through the 2002 World Cup qualification process. Coming in ahead of the final qualifying round, he quickly developed a following among many of the Iranian fans. Ćiro kept the 3–5–2 formation that Iran had played with previously in the 96 Asian Cup, in which Iranian national team had won third place. He also introduced new players to Team Melli such as Rahman Rezaei, Javad Nekounam, and Ebrahim Mirzapour. Known as loudmouth and showman, Blažević stayed true to form by claiming he would hang himself from the goalposts if Iran failed to beat Ireland in the deciding qualification playoff for the 2002 World Cup.[3] Ireland won 2–1 on aggregate, the defeat that marked the end of Blažević's time in Iran as his assistant Branko Ivanković took over.

Ćiro then came back in Croatia, first saving NK Osijek from relegation and then again in Dinamo. In his fourth term as Dinamo coach, Blažević won the Croatian Championship in 2003, but left again same year after clashing with his long-time friend, Dinamo's vice president Zdravko Mamić.

Ćiro then led Slovenian NK Mura for few months before becoming the coach of Croatian side NK Varteks, a post he held until the end of the season.

Short stint at Hajduk

Ćiro controversially announced that he was going to coach Hajduk Split in 2005–06, having expressed his desire to coach the southern Croatian side for decades; many fans were sceptical due to his association with Hajduk's arch-rival Dinamo. Not surprisingly, his arrival caused a great deal of controversy; Hajduk fans had differing opinions, with a significant number seeing Ćiro as a miracle worker that would help Hajduk regain its former glory.

Those expectations weren't met; Hajduk under Ćiro's leadership immediately got eliminated from European competitions, following an 8–0 aggregate defeat at the hands of Hungarian side Debreceni VSC; the 5–0 second leg drubbing being the most humiliating result for the Split club at Poljud stadium. The opening stages of the new league campaign brought about another series of humiliations, finally forcing Ćiro to resign on 18 September, followed by Igor Štimac, former Hajduk player and one of his main supporters in club administration.

Neuchâtel and NK Zagreb

In October 2005, he went back to Switzerland and coached Neuchâtel Xamax, replacing Alain Geiger in an attempt to save the club from relegation after they had won just one out of their first ten games of the season. Although Ćiro achieved some memorable victories with Neuchâtel against Swiss powerhouses FC Basel and FC Zurich, they finished the season in ninth place (in a ten-club league) and went to relegation playoff. They were eventually relegated after losing to another Swiss team Ćiro had managed 35 years earlier, FC Sion, 3–0 on aggregate, and his tenure there ended in June 2006.

Once again, he returned to Croatia, this time to take over NK Zagreb. The club experienced a successful 2006–07 season which saw them finish third behind Dinamo and Hajduk and earned them a spot in Intertoto Cup 2007. However, in the following season the team made for an early exit, losing against their first Intertoto opponent Vllaznia on away goals. After Ivica Vrdoljak and Mario Mandžukić were transferred to city rivals Dinamo Zagreb at the beginning of the season, the team saw a string of mediocre results before finishing the season sixth. Immediately after the last game of the season, Ćiro announced that his stint at NK Zagreb had come to an end by mutual consent between him and the club's chairman.[4]

Coach of Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 10 July 2008 Ćiro was appointed head coach of Bosnia and Herzegovina national football team[5] replacing Meho Kodro who was dismissed two months earlier by the Bosnian FA officials after refusing to take charge of the national team for a friendly against Iran.[6] Since Kodro's dismissal was seen by many fans as the latest in a series of problematic decisions by the much-maligned FA leadership, Blažević was thus, by proxy, not welcomed with open arms by certain sections of the public upon his arrival. With the national team in complete disarray and many players refusing to even answer callups by interim head coach Denijal Pirić, the appointment of Blažević was seen by many fans as FA's desperate makeshift solution designed to appease the public in the wake of the ongoing two-month fiasco by bringing in a fairly established name. However, combining his carefully crafted showman public persona with some decent initial results on the pitch, Blažević quickly managed to charm most of the public into getting behind him. By his own admission, Blažević was already close to getting the Bosnia-Herzegovina national team job years earlier in 2002,[7] but ended up not getting hired due to then influential FA member Jusuf Pušina who considered Blažević unsuitable for the job because of the coach's association with the Croatian wartime president Franjo Tuđman and his party.[8]

Staying true to all the staples of his coaching style from his previous places of employment, 74-year-old Blažević quickly became the media favourite in Sarajevo. Always ready for a sound bite, he gave bombastic interviews, cheekily delivering bold statements and sweeping promises.

Bosnia under Blažević has qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier playoffs, playing a game against Portugal. In Lisbon, Portugal, Bosnia lost 1–0, with a goal scored by Bruno Alves. In Zenica, Bosnia lost 1–0 against Portugal, with a goal scored by Raul Meireles. He was appointed as manager to the Bosnia-Herzegovina team on 10 July 2008[5] and announced on 11 December 2009 his demission. His dismissal was preceded by criticism from Bosnian fans and journalists following Blažević's attack on fan-favorite Zvjezdan Misimović, blaming him for the defeat against Portugal.[9]

Shanghai Shenhua

After his recession as head coach of the Bosnia and Herzegovina national football team signed one day later on 12 December 2009 for Shanghai Shenhua.[10]

China Olympic

He was appointed manager of the Chinese Olympic team in 30 November 2010.[11] He was resigned from his position in June 2011 after failed to qualified to the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Mes Kerman

On 28 August 2011, Iran Pro League side Mes Kerman announced that they will sign a contract with Blažević to replace Samad Marfavi who had resigned two days earlier.[12] On 31 August 2011, he returned to Iran after ten years and signed a one-year contract with Mes. On 9 September 2011, his side plays a match against Damash Gilan with a 1–1 draw.[13] He was started his career in the club successfully, but after the weeks, Mes returned to the relegation zone. He was sacked as club's head coach on 14 February 2012 and was appointed as technical director of the club.

NK Zagreb

In November 2012 he returned to NK Zagreb to help the club stay in the Prva HNL since they were in the relegation zone. In the beginning he started to have decent results like defeating Dinamo Zagreb on home ground but later his team started to decline in results. In December 2012 he almoust left the club because he had a serious argument with the NK Zagreb chairman but he decidet to stay. In May 2013 after NK Zagreb failed to secure a place in the Prva HNL and finished at the bottom of the league he announced his retirement from professional football at the end of the season.[14]

Sloboda Tuzla

In January 2014, after refusing to take over the Croatian Second League club NK Solin, Blažević signed with the Bosnian Sloboda Tuzla playing in the second level Bosnian League.[15] He took over the club while it was second on the league table and agreed to lead the club until the end of the season with the goal to reach the top level Bosnian league, He succeeded, with Sloboda winning 13 and drawing 1 of his 15 matches in charge to win the First League of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a record total of 71 points from their 30 league games in the season.


National teams record

Team Tenure* Played Won Drawn Lost Win % Points per game Honours
  Switzerland[2]   Sep 1976 – Oct 1976 2 0 0 2 0.00 0.00
Croatia Mar 1994 – Oct 2000 73 36 22 15 49.31 1.78 1996 Euro – Quarter-final
1998 World Cup – Third place
Iran  Apr 2001 – Nov 2001  19 10 4 5 53 1.78
 Bosnia-Herzegovina   Aug 2008 – Dec 2009 17 8 2 7 47.05 1.52
Totals 106 53 27 26 50 1.75
*Dates of first and last games under Blažević; not dates of official appointments

Managerial honours

23x16px FC Sion

23x15px Dinamo Zagreb

23x16px Grasshopper

23x15px Hajduk Split

23x15px Sloboda Tuzla


23x15px Croatia

1996 Euro: Quarter-finals
1998 World Cup: Third place


Franjo Bučar State Award for Sport: 2
1998, 2007

Political engagement

Ćiro is an admirer of Franjo Tuđman with whom he maintained a friendship as well. Ćiro was even a member of late Croatian president Tuđman's party HDZ, but he publicly disagreed with his successor, the pro-European HDZ leader Ivo Sanader. Because of this, Ćiro left the party in 2000 shortly after Tuđman's death, and then decided to run for President of Croatia as an independent candidate.[16] Polls predicting the 2005 presidential election results usually gave him 1–2% of the vote. In the end he received 17,847 votes (0.80%) and was eliminated in the first round of the election.

Following the presidential elections debacle he quit politics, until he appeared once again four years later at the 2009 Zagreb local elections where he successfully ran as HDZ candidate for the city council. He claimed that prime minister Ivo Sanader had talked him into re-joining the party and running for office.[17] He is currently the oldest serving member of the Zagreb city council and is a member of the city board for naming streets and squares.[18]

Blažević is known for his support of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former president of Iran. He stated that he would dress in Iranian Army uniform if the United States launched an attack against Iran and stated that he would fight with young people on the first lines of defence.[19][20]

During World War II, Blažević's two brothers, Anto and Joso, were members of the Ustaše, a fascist movement which ruled Croatia at the time. They were both killed in combat, aged seventeen. Speaking of his brothers, Blažević stated: "I will never try to justify what they did, just like my father never tried to justify it. No normal person can support that which goes against humanity and civilised behaviour".[21]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Switzerland – International Matches since 1905". RSSSF. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  3. ^ "Blazevic manages to unite Bosnia". The Independent. 6 September 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Ćiro odlazi iz Kranjčevićeve" (in Croatian). 9 May 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2008. 
  5. ^ a b "Bosnia-Herzegovina turn to Blažević". 10 July 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  6. ^ "Kodro fired as Bosnia-Herzegovina boss". 17 May 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  7. ^ Blažević on tv1 on YouTube; January 2011
  8. ^ Blazevic on Nova TV on YouTube
  9. ^
  10. ^ Bosniens Nationaltrainer Blazevic wirft das Handtuch
  11. ^
  12. ^ Blazevic will coach Mes Kerman
  13. ^ Blaz in Iran after 10 years
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "SENZACIJA IZ TUZLE Ćiro odbio Solin i Kinu i postao trener Slobode!". (in Croatian). 2014-01-11. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  16. ^ "Ex Croatia Coach Runs For President, Miroslav "Ciro" Blazevic: So Much More Than A Coach". Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  17. ^ "Ćiro Blažević ušao u zagrebačku Gradsku skupštinu kao član HDZ-a" (in Croatian). 24 sata. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 27 October 2009. 
  18. ^ "Miroslav Blažević" (in Croatian). – Službene stranice Grada Zagreba. Retrieved 27 October 2009. 
  19. ^ "Ćiro Blažević: Ahmadinejada volim tako jako jer je hrabar čovjek baš poput mene". Politika (in Croatian). 19 January 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "Ćiro Blažević: Obukao bih vojnu uniformu i borio se sa iranskom braćom protiv okupatora" (in Croatian). BPortal. 15 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  21. ^ "Ćiro Blažević: Šta Šimunić zna šta su NDH i ustaše?" [What does Šimunić know about the NDH and the Ustaše?]. Telegraf. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 

External links