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Croatia`s sports legends - most important personalities of Croatian sports

Croatia`s sports legends - most important personalities of Croatian sports

Small country - big sports history

Although Croatia is a small country, it has many sports achievements. Croatia has gone down in sports history due to some achieved results and successful athletes. In this article, we will list the five most famous Croatian athletes, who have contributed a lot to the Croatian sport.

We will start the story with probably one of the most famous basketball players of all time - Drazen Petrovic, born on October 22, 1963. in Sibenik. He started his great career full of trophies at the young age of 15. It is an interesting fact that he passionately fell in love with basketball by collecting and passing balls to his older brother Aleksandar, during his training sessions. He would stay alone in the gym after training and come to trainings again early in the morning, before school started. The incredible talent of such a little boy, could not be unseen even by experts, and already then they had predicted a successful career for him. Considering the numerous awards achieved throughout Europe, he was also the first European in the NBA league, which was an additional proof of how great a player he really was. During the 1992/1993 season, he was ranked 3rd in the NBA´s top five. Drazen Petrovic, or as almost the whole world called him - “the Mozart of basketball”, tragically died in a car accident, at the age of only 28, on 7 June 1993. in Germany. We can say that Drazen lived for basketball and sports and was and remains a true legend, as well as a great inspiration to all generations and a symbol of Croatian sport. If you have booked one of our villas in Sibenik, why not visit the Drazen basketball court and play a game …


The next sports legend we will mention is Mate Parlov - a famous Croatian boxer and Olympic, European and World gold medalist for former Yugoslavia. Born in Split on November 16, 1948, he began his professional career in 1975, and won the World Heavyweight title a year later, in 1976, by technical knockout in the 11th round - he defended the title three times. As a professional boxer he had 29 fights; 24 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws. It is interesting that Parlov, preparing for one of the fights in 1978, played football in the Pula club "Staklar" as a part of additional fitness preparations. An interesting fact also says that Parlov, as a great athlete, learned before a match once that the then "Yugoslav Radio and Television”, did not have the financial means to broadcast the match. He ended up writing a cheque, covering the expenses for the broadcast. Mate Parlov had his last contact with boxing at the 1984 Olympics, which he attended as the coach for the Yugoslav team. Yugoslav boxers then achieved their best results in history. After finishing his active boxing career and career in sports in general, Parlov lived in Pula and ran his own cafe, called "Mate". In March 2008, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, from which he died 4 months later, on July 29, 2008.


Along with Drazen Petrovic and Mate Parlov, one of the most famous names in Croatian sport, is Davor Suker.
He was born in 1968 in Osijek, where he began his football career, playing for the then first league "NK Osijek”. After this, he joined the ranks of the stronger, also Croatian club, “NK DInamo”. he went to Spain, where he became a member of "FC Seville”. Here he spent the next 5 years of his career, becoming a club icon due to the exceptional success he brought to the club. After that, he transferred to Real Madrid, with which he won the Spanish title in 1997, and then the Champions League in 1998. Davor Suker's representative career was also crowned with numerous titles. Playing for the Yugoslav National football team in 1991, he played two games and scored one goal. He also played in the younger categories of the former country, including in the finals of the European U-21 Championship, where Yugoslavia lost in the final to the host, Russia. Davor Suker was named the best player of the Championship. The most important thing to mention when we talk about Davor Suker's representative career, are certainly his performances for the Croatian National football serves ,at a time when it had just appeared on the World football scene. Davor Suker was one of the players who took Croatia to 3rd place in the World Champsionship, in 1998. Suker then won the "Golden Boot" award, which is given to the best scorers of the World Cup. Suker's last appearance for the Croatian National team was in 2002, at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan. We can openly say that he is a great Croatian sportsman, globally known all over the world. He remained in football waters even after the end of his professional career, running the football academy in Zagreb, wich bore his name. Davor Suker is still a part of the Croatian football - since 2012 he has been the "first man" of Croatian football, the president of the Croatian Football Association and also, he is a member of the UEFA Executive board.


We must not omit our best alpine skier Janica Kostelic, born on January 5, 1982. in Zagreb. Janica was only 3 years old when she first started skiing, and her great love for skiing was born at a very early age. She started serious training at the age of 10, and already then her talent was obvious and that she would leave a big mark not only in skiing but also in sports history. In the children's category she won the 2 most important competitions, "Topolino" and "Pinocchio". Among her greatest successes, that made her one of the best skiers in the world, we will mention that she is a five-time World Champion, winning medals in St. Moritz and Bormio. She also won 4 gold medals at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 and in Torino in 2006. She also had the top 10 placements in FIS races and won 3 large Crystal Globes and 3 small Crystal Globes in slalom, and numerous awards in other competitions. The fascinating fact is that she achieved all this by the time she was only 24 years old, and definitely deservedly took the place of the World's best skier ever in the history of this sport. Unfortunately, due to numerous injuries, after the season of 2006 ended, Janica decided to take a break from skiing. Finally, a year later, she decided that she would not return to active sports anymore.

The last sports legend we will mention today, is a retired tennis player, one of the recognisable names of Croatian sport and World tennis - Goran Ivanisevic. Born in 1971, he began his professional career in 1988, while he has had significant success since 1990. To this day, Ivanisevic is the only Croat to win Wimbledon (in 2001), and he is also the only Wimbledon winner in history. who came to the tournament with an invitation. An interesting fact is that at the time of the victory, Ivanisevic was the tennis player with the lowest ranking (125th in the standings). Such a placement was mostly caused by a shoulder injury, due to which he missed numerous tournaments. Consequently, the organisers awarded him an invitation, which, contrary to all expectations, he used to win this prestigious tournament. Ivanisevic was a member of the Croatian National Tennis team, when they won the Davis Cup in 2005; he won two bronze medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics; individually and in pairs. During his professional career, he was known for his extremely attack-oriented game and extremely strong serves, which led him to the highest ranking of his career, second place in the ranking of tennis players, which he achieved in 1994. Goran Ivanisevic won a total of 22 ATP tournaments in individual competition and another 9 in the doubles competition, which makes him the most trophy-winning Croatian tennis player in history.


This is only a small frection of the medals, recognitions and awards won by Croatian athletes. It is interesting that Croatia won a total of 44 medals at the Winter and Summer Olympics and several thousand medals at numerous World and European championships. As a conclusion of this article we can only welcome you to the land of top athletes :)

Jelena Maric

+385 1 222 70 50