FILE – Bosnia and Herzegovina coach Miroslav Blazevic of Croatia during their World Cup first leg qualifier at Luz Stadium in Lisbon, on November 14, 2009. Miroslav “Ciro” Blazevic, who coached the Croatia national football team to the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup in France, has passed away. He was 87. His family and friends said Blazevic died on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 in a hospital in Zagreb, after a long battle with prostate cancer. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, File) Armando Franca AP ZAGREB, Croatia
Miroslav “Ciro” Blazevic, who led the Croatian national football team to the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup in France, has passed away. He turned 87.
His family and friends said Blazevic passed away in a hospital in Zagreb on Wednesday after a long battle with prostate cancer.
The ‘coach of all coaches’, as he was called in his home country of Croatia, he led four national teams and several domestic and foreign clubs during his career.
Born into a Catholic family in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Blazevic was an average player. His successful coaching career began in the 1960s, in the same place where his playing days ended – with Swiss club Vevey.
Blazevic also managed the national teams of Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Switzerland. Among the clubs he coached were Dinamo Zagreb, Nantes, Grasshopper Zurich, Sion, Shanghai Shenhua, PAOK Thessaloniki and Hajduk Split.
The pinnacle of his coaching career came at the 1998 World Cup in France when Croatia finished in third place just a few years after emerging from the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
“The whole country was proud, but I was sad,” Blazevic said recently about the success of 1998. “If I had the experience I have now, we would have been world champions.”
He won over the crowd in France by donning a police hat on the bench in honor of a French officer who was put into a coma by German hooligans early in the tournament.
Blazevic, a colorful public personality – who was known in the 1980s for always wearing a white scarf when in public – also had a role in politics by running unsuccessfully for the presidency of Croatia in an election of 2005, when he won less than 1% of the vote.
“Some people in high politics persuaded me to run for president because they are sure I could win,” Blazevic, a fierce right-wing sympathizer, said at the time. “As for the 10,000 signatures required to approve my offer, I could collect them simply by showing up at a football match and asking the fans to sign their names.”
He would celebrate his 88th birthday on Thursday.
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