If you’re a footy fan you’ve probably heard of this legendary midfielder, former member of Croatian national team. Robert Prosinecki was born in 1969. in Germany’s Schwenningen, where his parents were working. He came in Croatia at early age and started playing for Dinamo Zagreb, but coach Miroslav Blazevic dismissed him saying his (in)famous sentence: ‘If this lad becomes a real football player, I’ll eat my coaching diploma.’
I’m not sure if his diploma still remained in one piece, but Robert Prosinecki then signed for Red Star Belgrade and made his debut in young national team of Yugoslavia. In fact, in 1987. Robi or Zuti (‘the yellow one’, due to his blonde hair) came to the world’s attention at the World Youth Championship in Chile where he was named player of the tournament!
Who would thought this midfielder would become the only player in World Cup history to score for two different national teams? In Italy 1990, Prosinecki scored one goal for Yugoslavia in a group match against United Arab Emirates. As Yugoslavia fell apart soon after that, Robi became prominent member of Croatian national team. Eight years later, during FIFA World Cup finals in France he scored 2 goals, in a group match against Jamaica and in the third place match against the Netherlands. The second goal included his famous technique, that fooled opponent players completely.
Croatia won third place that year (with striker Davor Suker as Golden Boot winner), but among many Croats there’s a still regret for what might have happened if only coach Blazevic didn’t leave Robert Prosinecki on a bench during semi-final match against France, which Croatia lost 1:2.
However, the 3rd place in a World Cup will forever remain the crown of his career, but let’s not forget he also won European Cup with Red Star Belgrade in 1991., and played for Spain’s big two clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona. In Portsmouth, where he played only in season 2001/2002., Robert is even now held as a hero and his nickname was ‘Croatian Magician’.
I met this football genius about 10 years ago, you never guess where – at the art gallery! No, he didn’t become a painter, but he opened exhibition of painting as a special guest. Calm and down-to-earth, he gave autographs afterwards and took pictures with his fans.
Robert Prosinecki ended his playing career in 2004., but his famous dribblings, passes and goals are already part of greatest moments in football history.