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News 05 Jan 18

Bosnian Football Pins Hopes on New Coach Prosinecki

After more than three months of tension and different expectations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a new national football coach has been selected.

Mladen Lakic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Robert Prosinecki Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Media Centre Belgrade

Robert Prosinecki, a Croatian football manager and former football midfielder who last worked as manager of Azerbaijan, is  Bosnia's new national football coach, it was announced on Thursday.

Journalist Haris Mrkonja wrote for N1 that while popes were often selected in less than a week, it took Bosnia more than three months to appoint a national football coach.

After retiring from active football, the 48-year-old worked as assistant manager of the Croatia national team between 2006 and 2010, before being made manager of Red Star Belgrade in December 2010.

In August 2012, Prosinečki left Red Star and took over Turkish club Kayserispor two months later. He was appointed manager of Azerbaijan's national football team in December 2014.

His main rival for this position was Amar Osim, 50, Bosnian coach and ex-football player and son of Ivan Ivica Osman, who is president of the normalisation committee of Bosnia's football federation, which some used as an argument against Amar.

During his time as Red Star manager, he used to greet fans with a raised hand and three fingers, which has been used against him in some Bosnian media, since this form of greeting is seen in Bosnia as a Serb nationalistic gesture.

Although Prosinecki was not connected with politics during the war years of the 1990s, some of his opponents in Bosnia believe that might cause certain problems with football fans.

Born in 1969, Prosinecki spent the first decade of his life living in a village in West Germany. In 1979, he moved to Croatia, Yugoslavia, and the birthplace of his parents, Djuro and Emilija.

There he joined the youth academy of Dinamo Zagreb, one of Croatia’s most prestigious football teams under the tutelage of Miroslav Blazevic, a manager so respected in Croatia that he is commonly called "the coach of all coaches".

When negotiations failed for the umpteenth time, Prosinecki threatened to leave, a show of bellicosity that Blazevic met with equal measure.

Refusing to be bullied by a player so young, the "coach of coaches" released Prosinecki from his youth contract, claiming he would eat his coaching diploma if the young man ever made it in football.

After that, Prosinecki was snapped up by Red Star Belgrade and in 1988 he played with the Yugoslavia youth squad for the FIFA Youth World Championship. Many noticed that it was in Chile that the Prosinecki star was born.

In 1991, Prosinecki joined Spanish giants Real Madrid, and he remains as one of the few footballers to have played for both Spanish rival clubs, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

For a player labelled as injury prone, he racked up 400 club appearances during his career and scored in every season he was fit. For a player often forgotten about, he was one of the most highly decorated in Europe.

Bosnia's new national football coach won the Bravo Award in 1991, the Franjo Bucar State Award for Sport in 1997 and 1998, alongside the Yugoslav and Croatian Footballer of the Year awards in 1990 and 1997.

For Croatia and Yugoslavia, Prosinecki won a FIFA Youth World Championship and played at the World Cups in 1990, 1998 and 2002 and Euro 96.

The first games awaiting Bosnia's new coach are at the end of the January, with the United States and Mexico.

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