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Former Dinamo Zagreb Academy Director Romeo Jozak Talks Move To The USA

February 6, 2021

 

 

Romeo Jozak talks about his ambition to coach in the MLS and developing the Dinamo Zagreb youth academy throughout the years with players such as Luka Modrić, Mario Mandžukić, and Mateo Kovačić. He also touches on his relationship with Zdravko Mamić while at Dinamo.

 

 

Jozak just purchased the BLAST FC soccer academy in Ohio after coaching Poland’s Legia Warsaw and the Kuwait national football team. He was also the technical director for the Croatian national team just before the 2018 World Cup. Jozak sees more upside in American football and is aiming to be the first Croatian coach in MLS history.

 

 

Romeo Jozak Interview 

 

 




Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 27 comments





  1. I really enjoyed this interview. Great insight from Romeo into how our players develop and I think I have to give myself a pat on the back for suggesting that Kovacic could be the future captain of the national team in the “Croatia in 5 years” even if I don’t agree with some of the players I put into the lineup. Crazy how opinions of players can change in less than a year’s time.

  2. Great informative interview. I like how you put his feet to the fire when asking about Mamic.

  3. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Very good interview Ante, probably your best ever. You were polite, professional and asked some good questions.

    .
    Jozak is a very experienced coach…for player development and so far, he hasn’t really proven he had the abilities to lead and make the right decisions to provide results for a professional team. His expertise is to develop and ensure his players understand their roles as players and professionals. He has very complex drills and strategies to help his players learn positioning and how to create space and take space….I’ve seen several of his training videos snd they are definitely complex!

    .
    I was a bit surprised you didn’t realize that “mentality” is a massive quality Ante! It’s the difference between playing the game and living the game. Jozak mentioned sever details I thought were interesting but most of all, I enjoyed listening to his point of view as a soccer person…which I feel many don’t understand what that means until they live it in the Croatian soccer system. It’s similar to when you compared being Brazilian or German….or Croatian. Playing soccer in Europe is a whole different deal than in the US!

    .
    His comments about Mamic were polite, to say the least. The two things I took away from that topic were 1) Mamic recognized him and his worthiness to the future of the club and 2) Mamic did everything possible to give his staff the tools to succeed…I didn’t realize how good of a boss he truly was!

  4. Soul Champ says:

    @ Ante

    This is a milestone for this site.

    You are connecting a world class academy director to the US market where he is committed to impacting.

    Romeo Jozak = Vision and passion.

    I believe that Croatian youth coaches are underrated for THEIR vision and passion.

    Back in the day I had some future NBA players that I trained/coached from ages 12-18.

    It was vision and passion that facilitated breakthroughs in player development.

    Few years ago I had taken my kids to a simple Dinamo camp in New Jersey.

    The vision and passion of the two coaches from Dinamo academy were light years from my son’s “DA” coach who also was a US youth national team coach. This dude actually was part of those u15 scrimmages with Croatia in Zagreb. He was no where near the level of vision of the Dinamo coaches.

    MLS is socialist trash.

    I would build a world class youth academy/slash USL club and sell your best players to Europe for big time transfer fees.

    The future is in the USL.

    Jozak is the best youth development coach in the world.

    If he had Pulisic level player as a teenager and sold him to Dortmund he would have made millions on one player.

    Croatian coaches have vision and passion that sources next level performance.

    This is in our DNA.

    ZDS.

  5. Maminjo says:

    One thing that people don’t realize about Mamić is that he always knows how to surround himself with the right people, and he let’s them do their jobs. That’s a very rare trait to have, especially in Croatia.
    .
    Mamić also uses his bully tactics to retain the top talent, lol.
    I recall Romeo was supposed to move to Australia after being offered a job within their FA, and Mamić quickly ended that, lol. He knew how important Jozak was at the time.
    .
    Mamić may be crazy and corrupt (re: contracts and not paying taxes) but he’s extremely capable. Mamić reminds me of Dana White. People hate him but you can’t deny that he’s capable. The fact that people actually believed Mamić held us back is laughable.
    Nobody will admit it, but he’s a huge reason why we almost won the World Cup.

  6. Soul Champ says:

    Ante Rebic (LW) – 8/10 – Found a little bit of joy down the left flank, and set up a couple of good chances with some nice cut-backs. Headed and slammed two goals past the Crotone shot-stopper in the space of a minute. Game over.

    Mamić is Croatian and should only be judged by Croatians.

    All Jugo and pravoslavni in Croatia can puši moj kurac.

  7. Mr. Black says:

    Great job, Ante!

    Hvala.

  8. Suba says:

    The best moly people who had a problem with Mamic were Hajduk and the jugo elements that’s still remains in Croatia
    They were jealous and hated the success of Mamic Dinamo and secretly croatia
    Is Jozak really from Rijeka

  9. Maminjo says:

    The way Mamic conducts himself is definitely a problem.
    .
    The ‘lifetime contracts’ that Mamic got a lot of heat for are actually pretty commonplace in the world. They’re not great, but they’re definitely not a Mamic thing lol.
    .
    The 18 year old law that was passed in Croatia (where a teenager can void any contract prior to the age of 18) fixes all this. Actually, I doubt that most Western countries even has a law like that. I’m seeing 16 year olds in the “less corrupt” western clubs signed to unbreakable pro contracts.
    .
    Mamic raking in the untaxed cash via Dinamo is the crime.
    But I highly doubt he ruined young careers like the newspapers said, or that we would be much ‘better off’ (whatever that means).
    .
    The whole “using the national team as a Dinamo supermarket” was overblown as well as the “hiring a non-foreign and inexperienced NT coach that he could control” too.
    .
    Most National Teams hire inexperienced former players as coaches, and nobody said anything. Most of them with crap resumes, like Wilmots at Belgium or even Southgate in England. They also cap young players all the time, with the intent to sell them.
    .
    I’m just so disappointed that there is such a large swath of people hoping to believe this lie to make themselves feel better.
    .
    Actually, Mamic may have ruined Romeo Jozak’s career lol.
    .
    Years ago, Jozak was offered the technical director role for the Australian FA, and even the Irish FA.
    Arsenal FC also offered him a role at their club at the time.
    All that Jozak hype fizzled when he should have cashed in, and then he had to settle for moving to Warsaw and Kuwait.
    Good to see him in the US. He should be able to make some serious money there.

  10. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Suba, we heard soo may complaints about Mamic and the HNS while Mamic was still living in ZG. So many Hajduk fans relentlessly protested and said he caused their demise and that he was fixing games to make them lose. What’s the problem now? Why aren’t Hajduk fans now protesting the club itself? Isn’t it curious to anyone why the club still is abysmal and yet nobody is in the streets? All of Croatia want a strong and healthy Hajduk but the question is, does Hajduk have a new alibi or do they continue to blame the boogie man?

  11. Maminjo says:

    Hajduk seems to be trying.

    They’ve lately been hiring the right people (on paper at least), like Primorac as caretaker coach and this Lithuanian Nikolicius guy who has a decent resume (although he is pretty young at 37).

    I never liked Brbic. He seemed incompetent to me. He was just a hotel manager who somehow got the role. But Hajduk was in debt and maybe I’m taking it out on the wrong guy. It’s likely these problems caused by Fiorentini, Stimac and the previous crew set Hajduk back a decade or two, no matter what.
    Still, I can’t get behind a team that STILL aims to sign second rate foreign talent from B leagues, and start them (and lose with them) over starting/losing with our own. If Hajduk are in a transition year, they need to take a page from Rijeka’s book and do it that way.
    .
    We’ll see if Lukša Jakobušić is a better President, and worth all this hype around him.

  12. Suba says:

    That’s right Mamic is now gone
    What’s Hajduks excuse now
    They are in fact running out of the excuses
    Our die hard passion for Hajduk is simply not enough
    With respect to Mamic
    You don’t know what you have until it’s gone
    Hopefully Mamic has left a legacy for others to continue for decades to come

  13. Maminjo says:

    Well, Hajduk is no longer in debt and they have new blood.
    .
    Now it’s up to them to show us they are dedicated to their youth development.
    .
    They keep having guys like Colina, Vuskovic, Sego, Cubelic in these articles that profile the top 50 (or whatever) young talents…which is remarkable considering how small the city and club are relative to the rest of the continent, and they somehow manage to always get a couple of their players included in the list.
    .
    Doesn’t mean that a player like Michele Sego is a guaranteed star, but it’s odd that they’re willing to go through the growing pains of developing Bassel Jradi these past three years, and yet there is zero time for Sego for these past three years (since he was called out as a top 50 talent).
    .
    This is the one real thing I want them to change. I could care less for Hajduk (or anyone’s) season really. It’s just about player development in the HNL.
    Funny thing is Hajduk would make a ton of money this way (as they’re never going to sell a second rate player like Jradi for anything meaningful). I’m baffled as to why they haven’t been doing this to date. Hopefully they turn the corner here.

  14. Medo says:

    Romeo is a class act …refuses to take credit for anything even when Ante tries to goad him into it.
    Is coaching an MLS team really the top of the mountain for this guy…he should aspire higher.
    Getting his kids a good education in America seems to be his main priority ,so he’s sacrificing like any good parent while trying to make a decent payday..wish him the best!

  15. Maminjo says:

    Gotta strike while the pan is hot.
    .
    When he was barely 40, he was being pursued by everyone. Now, he’s no longer a “young up and comer” so there’s a little bit of age-ism here.
    .
    He definitely should’ve gone to Arsenal, or even one of directors positions at either one of the Australian or Irish FAs. Coaching at club level in Poland and Qatar’s NT is a step down for him (but I’m sure those Arabs paid him well). It’s a shame, but he’ll be fine.

  16. BEĆAR says:

    Coaching at club level in Poland and Qatar’s NT is a step down? From what? Dinamo?
    .
    If those moves were a “step down”, what is owning a soccer academy in Ohio then? Not trying to be an a$$hole, just saying…….

  17. Suba says:

    Did anyone see Budimirs goal
    I can’t see it anywhere

  18. Anonymous says:

    @Suba
    I seen it on beIN sports connect.

  19. Maminjo says:

    BEĆAR
    .
    Yes. Coaching at Warsaw and the Qatar NT is definitely a step down from being offered technical director positions in the Australian FA, Irish FA and Arsenal. Absolutely.
    .
    Qatar’s NT coaches are usually Balkan journeyman type (like Ante Cacic or Branko Ivankovic) who just go there to cash in. Legia Warsaw, although a respectable team, is also usually coached by inexperienced former players and Balkan journeymen. Their current coach (some young Serbian guy named Vuković) has been their coach 3 different times in the past 4 years, lol.
    .
    Romeo Jozak is better than this. Especially since he was offered much more important roles when he was still in his 30s.
    .
    Also, I would argue that coaching at Dinamo’s and Croatia’s youth setup is definitely a step up from this too. It bring more exposure and accolades than either of those two teams above. Everyone knows about Croatia and their talent. Being associated with that, along with exposure at the UEFA Youth League or U21 tournaments opens a lot of doors. Nobody watches Qatar games, and probably the same for Legia games too.

  20. Maminjo says:

    BEĆAR
    .
    Yea, I don’t know about the academy thing.
    .
    My guess is that his short spell in Poland and Qatar really hurt his career, and maybe he had some issues with people at Dinamo, and no longer wants to be there. Not sure if this was discussed in Ante’s interview (I need to watch this full interview still, only caught part of it).
    .
    He was likely a much more critical piece to Dinamo and Croatia’s success 10 years ago than he now, and became expendable. Dinamo (and Croatia in general) have a LOT more talented coaching than they did a decade ago.

  21. Suba says:

    Thanks Becar top stuff
    Nicely constructed goal
    Budimir is tracking along nicely
    He makes my squad for the euros

  22. Branko says:

    Does anyone know what’s going on with pongrancic and his lack of playing time ?
    Rather concerning.

  23. BEĆAR says:

    I heard some time ago that he was still experiencing mono/covid after effects with his breathing. Maybe that’s it? He hasn’t played lately, but is on the bench.

  24. ARMADA87 says:

    Always forget Romeo is a Rijecanin….

  25. Anonymous says:

    Jozak has a bunch of 1 hour videos on Youtube where he is interviewed. also there is a webinar he did online that was outstanding.. where he talks about how players learn and that after 15 or 16, they cannot improve much This guides the way that Dinamo runs their youth Acadamy and its also what the HNS has now implemented.

    BTW.. Watched Kalinic play for Hajduk this week.in goal.

  26. ARMADA87 says:

    Finally watched this entire interview… one of the best yet. Romeo is a class act and great guy to talk to it seems.
    .
    “Zdravko Mamic? Who’s that…?” hahahhaha



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