Monday, August 9, 2010

Yugoslavia, the most interesting East European country in football matters, was peculiarly divided as ever – the big Belgrade rivalry between Crvena zvezda and Partizan on one hand, and the big Serbian – Croatian rivalry on the other. Croatian football itself supplied local rivalry between Dynamo (Zagreb) and Hajduk (Split) and along these intricate lines four clubs normally competed for trophies, with occasional other club sneaking in temporary. In the early 70s Dynamo (Zagreb) was in decline, but Hajduk was in great shape and really the major force of the whole decade. Among the top four, Hajduk was the oldest club and coming from the smallest city too. They also had a system similar to the practice of Ajax (Amsterdam): great youth organization, constantly producing strong players, which the club carefully sold abroad. It was never wholesale, but with care to preserve solid team – during the decade only one player went abroad on his own, disregarding club’s policy, and, in a way, proved the soundness of the policy – Slavisa Zungul ruined his career by going to the USA, where he played indoor football and disappeared from sight. Anyway, Hajduk won double in 1974 – their 7th champioship and 4th Cup.

Top, left to right: Dragan Holcer – captian, Rizah Meskovic, Ivan Buljan, Luka Peruzovic, Vedran Rozic, Drazen Muzinic.
Bottom: Ivica Matkovic, Jure Jerkovic, Branko Oblak, Micun Jovanic, Ivica Surjak.Now, this squad was something – 7 national players, 6 of whom played at the World Cup 1974. Holcer was sold abroad, for he was no longer needed for national duty at 29 years of age. The rest were very young and all of them – Buljan, Peruzovic, Muzinic, Jerkovic, Oblak, and Surjak – were among the big European stars of the 70s and early 80s, eventually playing for clubs like Bayern, Hamburger SV, Anderlecht. The reserves should be mentioned as well, for some of them soon became national players as well – Vilson Dzoni, Mario Boljat, Ivan Katalinic, Slavisa Zungul, Goran Jurisic. With the exception of Oblak the team was homegrown. The coach deserves mentioning: nobody yet knew Tomislav Ivic, but soon everybody recognized him as one of the best European coaches of the late 70s and the 80s. Hajduk (Split) were by far the best East European club in 1974, but Yugoslavian football was traditionally good, so nothing surprising really. What a team, though!