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Joe Šimunić Talks Cico Kranjčar, Red Card Tackle, Future Of Croatian Football

March 7, 2021



Vatreni legend and current Croatia U-19 manager Joe Šimunić talks about the late Cico Kranjčar, the future of Croatian football, and his red card tackle vs. Serbia with He also touches on the mentality and discipline needed in the younger generation of players.



Joe is a Croatian footballing legend and is one of only eight players to be capped by the Croatian senior side 100 times. He’s also the only player in World Cup history to receive three yellow cards in the same match.





Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 56 comments

  1. CroatiaU14 says:

    Great stuff Ante!!!!!

  2. Poglavnik says:

    Big Joe you ledge!
    Great stuff Ante

  3. U Boj says:

    Great player and Hrvat.

    One of the best. Thank you Ante for this interview.

  4. Maminjo says:

    What part does he talk about his tackle lol

  5. Split says:

    Loved this interview, big Joe one of the best to ever put on the jersey.

  6. Crotown says:

    same as everyone – Pravi Joe- he’s a beauty- heart of a lion-
    I loved his response on the Serbia incident – he’s the politically correct thing but his eyes said-
    “ loved nailing that Serbian guy”

    I see coach as head coach of HNS next 5-10 years no question- probably first head coach with a good handle on English

    As , his comments on HNS and diaspora- what took so long to follow the money- jerseys, clinics – etc

    Their probably leaving $50 million on the table every year-

    Cut a deal with Adidas or Under Armour- their both struggling and they could get some big money out of them versus Nike

    Capitalism is great just slow in Croatia but their learning fast

  7. Anonymous says:

    The slogan Srbe na vrbe! (Србе на врбе), meaning “Hang Serbs from the willow trees!” (lit. ‘Serbs onto willows!’) originates from a poem by the Slovene politician Marko Natlačen published in 1914, at the beginning of the Austro-Hungarian war against Serbia.
    This is a poem for the anonymous chetnik in the previous sports story..spewing lies about bleiburg..the evil of these chetnik types never ends,the Catholic god will smite them again one day.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Are you referring to the comment where I told the truth about communist Frank Tudjman being Tito’s youngest general? The truth is that Frank Tudjman’s communists conspired with the protestant English to kill Croats at Bleiburg, if you can’t handle the truth that’s your problem motherfucker!
    Go to youtube and type in Autohtona Hrvatska Stranka Prava where you’ll see a Croatian branitelj (Mr. Drazen Keleminec) saying “Croatia isn’t free, let’s free Croatia.” Do you think Croatia is free?

  9. Suba says:

    Go big joe

  10. Anonymous says:

    Love joe heart of a lion and one of the most technically gifted players I have ever seen.
    Still think we and the HNS owe Joe a proper send off from the national team still have a bad taste in my mouth from the way he was cheated out of the World Cup in Brazil.
    Great person and fantastic Hrvat sending him congratulations on the new baby and lots of love from the whole Gamulin family.

  11. joe says:

    awesome interview

  12. Anonymous says:

    If there is only 3.9 million Croats why bring up Miocic, he’s not a part of the 3.9 million. If however you want to say there is 10 million Croats worldwide then by all means include Miocic when talking about Croatian achievements.

  13. Branko says:

    Agreed …the shrinking population is a major concern for us.
    Do they eventually do what our pretty wonder boy in Canada is doing and bring in Syrians and Somalians by the boatload?I know where I reside the value of my home has appreciated greatly due to the influx but one major downside is I have to listen to the wailing chants of the mosque during Ramadan..kind of sounds like a cow being butchered.
    Is Hungary really doing such a horrible thing keeping things Hungarian?

  14. Anonymous says:

    How does Sosa not get called up?

  15. Maminjo says:

    Vratari: Lovre Kalinić, Dominik Livaković, Simon Sluga
    Braniči: Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Šime Vrsaljko, Borna Barišić, Duje Ćaleta-Car, Dario Melnjak, Filip Uremović, Josip Juranović
    Vezni: Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić, Marcelo Brozović, Milan Badelj, Mario Pašalić, Nikola Vlašić
    Napadači: Ivan Perišić, Andrej Kramarić, Ante Rebić, Josip Brekalo, Bruno Petković, Mislav Oršić, Ante Budimir
    Pretpozivi: Mile Škorić, Toma Bašić, Marin Pongračić, Ivo Grbić, Kristijan Lovrić

  16. Maminjo says:

    No young players called up (Bradaric, Gvardiol, Sosa, Bašić, etc).
    Looks like we’re going with the old guard in these Euros.
    Round of 16 knockout. 😉

  17. Maminjo says:

    So, Borna Sosa is suspended for the U21 game.
    Does this carry over to senior callups?
    The reason for the Bradaric non-callup is that he is Sosa’s replacement for the U21s.
    Sucks that Dalic probably only sees Bradaric as a backup, otherwise he wouldn’t have just given him to the U21s like that.
    It would’ve been great to see Sosa called up to the senior team if he was allowed to play.
    Basic being behind guys like Badelj doesn’t make sense.
    It’s looking more like a back four of Barisic, Lovren/Vida, Caleta-Car and Vrsaljko.
    I guess we have to be thankful that Caleta-Car was at least given a fair shot and that Lovren and Vida had a horrible Nations League campaign. That should (at least) stamp down Caleta-Car’s position in the starting eleven.
    Hopefully we beat Slovenia convincingly, but I want to see the Slovenci drill a cheap goal on us (with the fault being entirely Lovren’s). We really need Dalic to see the flaws in our co-captains. Can’t be so sure to start these guys.

  18. Markus says:

    I’m disappointed with the call up list and I knew I was going to be. Players like Melnjak and Juranovic have no place in this nation team, and as long as they’re there, we’re no better in quality than teams like Sweden, Poland, Russia, etc. I’m very disappointed we didn’t get at least one of Bradaric or Sosa. Gvardiol was expected as they’re using him for the u21s.
    If Dalić starts Melnjak for euros I’m gonna lose my shit.

  19. Yeah I kept meaning to mention that I found out about a week ago that Sosa’s red card carries over to all competitive matches (including senior team). So he and Bradaric are probably both getting the call up to the U21s and Bradaric will play the first two matches and Sosa the final game unless Bradaric is doing really well. I wasn’t expecting any u21 eligible players except Brekalo to get called up so this is basically what I was expecting to see. A little disappointed, but there is still the chance that the U21s crash out in the group stage and they get put on the preliminary squad and potentially the Euro squad. Don’t worry though, we have our savior Melnjak and I’m sure Vrsaljko will have to pull out so we can call up Mile ‘Maldini’ Skoric. I will give Skoric credit for his performance against Portugal though. Still don’t think he can play like that consistently. Also, Pongracic > Juranovic even if he hasn’t been fully fit. I’d say Juranovic is the 3rd best RB right now behind Vrsaljko and Uremovic (who’s a CB). So we don’t need him unless Vrsaljko is injured.
    Either way, I will support our players no matter who plays. Hopefully we can get all 9 points in these games and have an easy qualifying campaign for once. Fingers crossed.

  20. Markus says:

    Also the fact Dalic kept Sluga and dropped Grbic just shows Sluga is considered our 2nd best keeper 😬. Imo Kalinic shouldn’t really have a spot in our squad anymore.

  21. ARMADA87 says:

    Kind of sad when I saw this. Not one of our in-form youngsters called up. As Maminjo alludes to, this really tips Dalic’s hand in terms of what we can expect for the Euro. If he were serious about meshing some of these younger guys into the team, these games would of been the time to do that.
    I’m not really worried about guys like Melnjak or Badelj seeing the pitch. Barring some freak injuries, they’re not seeing any game time – but if that is the case, why not get some of these younger guys into the senior repka fold and get them ready for potential gametime later this year? Even if its just training with the senior team?
    I’m not too worried about Barisic at LB, as he’s slightly above average and can hold down his flank. I just think guys like Bradaric and Sosa can bring a lot more going forward on that left flank and really complement Perisic well.
    My biggest worry is if Dalic still pairs Vida/Lovren together. If we see that during the Slovenia game, I honestly hope one of them has a gaffe or two (where we still win) and forces Dalic’s hand in putting DCC in the mix. We all talk about DCC as a starter as a forgone conclusion, but I just wonder if Dalic sees it that way?

  22. Anonymous says:


    Why not invite more friendly people
    Like Ukrainians?

  23. Maminjo says:

    Yea, we all got a little excited seeing Ćaleta-Car playing in the UNL, and Bradarić and Pongračić getting some game time in the more recent games.
    Made us think Dalić was seeing the light and was slowly going to replace our old and gaffe-riddled back line with the younger talent.
    Seeing this callup list is a complete buzz kill.
    Not only do we not get to see the newer (and obviously more talented and deserving) callups like Sosa and Gvardiol… We lose guys like Bradarić, Pongračić and Bašić too.
    Now, I’m beginning to get nervous that even Ćaleta-Car is not guaranteed to start (which would be a travesty).
    Lovren and Vida are co-captains, along with Modrić and Perišić.
    I really hope that Dalić isn’t really thinking about starting Lovren and Vida just because of the optics around having one of their four “captains” on the bench (what an idiotic idea naming four captains).
    This hurts our World Cup preparation as well now, and not just our Euros.
    If he plans on going with a Lovren and Vida CB pairing at the Euros, then hopefully he does it in these March World Cup qualifiers and gets exposed early. The HNS is trigger happy when firing coaches, and a move like this can get me to support a firing.
    If they lose or draw one of these easier qualification matches (after an embarrassing UNL campaign) Dalić won’t have any excuses.
    Full squad, many youngsters having career years, no more experimentation, and still dropping points to inferior opponents?
    That would be a big flag.

  24. Maminjo says:

    I don’t mind Barišić starting… But only IF he’s our worst starter.
    I think Lovren and Vida are both hovering in Barišić’s ball park, so having our worst three starters make up three-quarters of our back line is scary (especially with Livaković in goal).
    I always wondered if Barišić’s dad (who is a crime boss in Osijek) had any influence on the National Team.
    Borna is decent, but shouldn’t be given the starting gig.

  25. Eric says:

    I wouldn’t want to be in Dalic’s shoes…anything less than dominating wins, and the knives will come out for him. I also wanted to see some of these youngsters get a call up, and slowly begin integrating into the A team. Maybe they are thinking its better to let these guys get some experience on the pitch, playing with the U21s, rather than sitting on the bench? IDK. Lovren and Vida…perhaps getting a last chance to prove if they are still reliable. If the “kiks” factor shows up, Dalic will have “just cause” to drop them.

  26. Maminjo says:

    I think Dalic’s main positive is also his negative.
    He has strong “relationship management” skills. He knows how to appease a locker room, and this probably extends to having positive working partnerships with other areas in Cro football (like the U21s).
    We saw a bit of this when he was trying to ‘unite’ Croatia by being vocal about playing all around Croatia (in places like Varazdin and Osijek) and calling local players up too.
    He’s probably trying to support the U21 coaches, and is taking their feedback into consideration.
    This could be a mistake.
    It’s not Dalic’s job to think about the U21s.
    The senior NT is top priority and results here are CRITICAL.
    U21 results are NICE TO HAVE.
    This is where a more competent HNS president has to step in, and tell someone like Dalic that he needs to stop focusing on ‘uniting Croatian fans’ and to ‘support the U21s’.
    His job is to get Senior NT results (or get fired).
    If Dalic sees himself as a future HNS president (and maybe that’s his angle) then he should apply for the job.
    But for now, he really needs to keep his focus on winning games and fixing that very leaky back four.

  27. Medo says:

    We are all mesmerized by young and shiny..whether it’s a brand new car a hot young girl or a stud youthful prospect.
    This site exploded when Dalic was appointed coach and not ONE of us could have dreamed what would unfold in the end.
    The only thing that matters is WINS,and if we get the results we want it doesn’t matter who he puts out there.
    Remember…youth is wasted on the young.
    That being said I really don’t see us going that far regardless of who we field?
    France is stacked Italy is playing well there’s Germany Holland England etc and I think Portugal has more talent than anyone top to bottom.
    Quarter finals and I would be satisfied,we all need to be realistic and take off our homer glasses.

  28. Maminjo says:

    Wins matter most, but we also have a history of overplaying veteran players who have choked in the tournaments, when it was better to move on to the newer players (who are currently playing better than the old).
    We are in a tough spot because we cross over with the France/Portugal/Germany group in the Round of 16.
    However, we always play well against top competition.
    I would really hate it if we play these guys and then we lose because of a Lovren gaffe.
    France, Germany and Portugal have no issues with fielding young players in their early 20s. France did it in the last World Cup with guys like Pavard and Hernandez (and neither were considered as valuable as Caleta-Car and Gvardiol at the time).
    The fact that it’s still a debate whether a 30 million euro defender in Caleta-Car will start, and whether a 20 million euro player in Gvardiol can even get a callup…is a long standing problem that all our NT coaches seem to have.
    Dalic is a good coach, but still not as forward thinking as some of these coaches from the other top teams in Europe.

  29. Mr. Black says:

    Awesome! Hvala.

    Joe really is a great guy and Legend!

  30. Eric says:

    I agree about Dalic…his loyalty may become his downfall. Hopefully he proves us wrong. Remember in 2018, Corluka was expected to play in the WC, and he ended up on the bench to make way for Vrsaljko.

  31. ARMADA87 says:

    @ Eric
    Not sure Corluka had a cemented spot in 2018. Also, he wouldn’t of made way for Vrsajlko given Corluka hadn’t played RB since the mid 2000’s. He was firmly only CB material by 2018.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Just for conspiracy theory sake, Barisic family are actually from livno area…so could be onto something there

  33. Aussie Croat says:

    I remember watching Simmo at Somers Street back in the mid-90’s just take the piss out of whole teams. His technical ability was A1.You could just see the difference between him and the rest of the defenders in the league. One was destined for Europe the others were Sunday afternoon hacks.

  34. Pero says:

    Medo I agree and you forgot Spain.I would be really happy with reaching the semi’s

  35. Markus says:

    Lineup I want to see against Slovenia (don’t really care who he fields for the other two games):
    GK: Livakovic
    LB: Barisic
    CB: DCC
    CB: Lovren (maybe even Uremovic??)
    RB: Vrsaljko
    CM: Modric
    CM: Brozovic
    CAM: Kramaric
    LW: Rebic
    RW: Perisic
    ST: Petkovic
    Also hope Vlasic gets some game time as a sub and maybe Orsic as well.

  36. Maminjo says:

    Yea, I just checked. You’re right.
    ‘His father Stipe “Moljac” Barišić hails from Galečić, while his mother Verica (née Tokić) hails from Stražbenica.’
    Moljac is his dad’s crime boss nickname. He had something to do with all the Shopping Centers in Osijek, and there was some thing between him and Mamic about the Dynamo Kiev transfer (that was supposed to be Barisic, but turned out to be Pivaric instead).

  37. Maminjo says:

    I’m thinking he might just go with his Euro qualifier formation, with a couple of tweaks to the lineup.
    Livakovic – Barisic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko – Brozovic, Modric – Perisic, Vlasic, Rebic – Petkovic
    …with Vida being benched for Caleta-Car and Petkovic benched for Krama.
    Outside of UNL, Dalic is pretty safe and predictable.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Lot ot useless chetnik trolls on here..I would love to meet one of these cowards in a parking lot weapons just old I played competitive hockey back in the they ..fake tuff serb..would shit and run when ..they see a monster tough cro ustasha like me..I would love it..these pos chetnik taught by their commy shit vlach parents would see their coward turd serb..shit kicked it a pulp ..just like they have no heavyweight fighters in world class UFC’ or boxing..they are govno..some serbs ok.not chetniks.

  39. Anonymous says:

    So did you hear that Mark Pavelic died?

  40. Mali Ante says:

    Relax everyone. Dalic absolutely catered to Biscan and the U21 team.

    Bradaric is a prime example of this. Although Gvardiol looks like he will be the real deal, he plays in the HNL and is 19. A coach would be crazy to start him in meaningful games.

    Sosa I believe is also still able to play U21. He would have 100% been called up based on form and his experience as a starting bundesliga player.

    Let’s face it, we don’t have the depth of Portugal and are always late bloomers. Joe said it best in his interview, he thinks it’s a mentality with younger Cro players more worried about their next move/contract vs playing their heart out for the repka.

    Vlasic would be the only one I can think of who bucks this trend because of genetic makeup of coming from a family of athletes.
    A true pro at a young age.

    I’m not worried. We can play with and beat any team out there. Our boys will step up when needed.
    I’m just happy Vrsaljko is back…our RB position was a major
    issue since the WC.

  41. Toronto Croatia says:

    Salute Joe


  42. Maminjo says:

    Why is it crazy to start Gvardiol in meaningful games?
    RB Leipzig is the second best team in Germany, and a Champions League semifinalist…and they attempted to cut short his loan at Dinamo to bring him over sooner.
    He will likely be starting for them in a few months from now when his loan spell ends in the summer.
    Liepzig is better than 90% of National Teams. So, if they have no issues in starting a 20 million Euro player in Gvardiol, then what makes it crazy for us to do so?

  43. Maminjo says:

    Also, not having the depth of Portugal is MORE of a reason not to screw around, and try to spread ourselves thin across our senior NT and U21 squads (which is exactly what we are doing).

  44. The Great Anonymous Doom says:

    What’s so controversial about these call-ups? The starting lineup probably was decided well before now, with Barisić and Vrsaljko playing their respective positions, Caleta-Car and probably Lovren playing CB (although I’d rather see Uremović there), and we have a surplus of good midfielders and forwards who now have trained together and competed together for a while. There’s not much room to shake up anything except the defense at this point, and Dalić has made it pretty clear that Barisić is the number 1 left back. If Sosa is suspended, that only makes it more reasonable.

  45. The Great Anonymous Doom says:

    I agree that we don’t want Lovren, Vida, Melnjak, or Juranović to play. But Badelj, Pasalić, Kovacić all have been in good form, so there’s no reason to drop them. And Juranović or Uremović have to be called up in case of further injuries to Vrsaljko or at least to get him some rest after the Slovenia game. Our best team likely will play Slovenia, and for the other matches (Malta and Cyprus, was it?) the second tier players will eat up minutes and get the first tier a rest while Pasalić, Badelj, Budimir, and Kovacić control the flow of the game and work to create goals against a bunker defense. This is what I predict will happen and explains the call-ups. Remember when our young stud Marko Pjaca ruined his career playing in a friendly for the repka against a garbage team? Better to let Melnjak and Juranović run out those easier games.

  46. The Great Anonymous Doom says:

    I finally posted something with “doom” in it to justify my name 😀

  47. Mali Ante says:

    @ Maminjo
    Yep agree to disagree. I think it is crazy to start a kid who has barely played a full season at Dinamo….in the HNL. Very little experience and you throw him in as a starter ?!? Gimme a break.
    Bradaric, sure as he’s played in a much superior league vs much better players consistently…that I can see.
    Sosa, same thing.
    Too many people feel like it’s a great idea to start these Halilovic types before they’ve done anything.

    Our U21 team actually looks as good as I can remember in some time. I’d like to see them compete given their tough draw.

  48. Anonymous says:

    @ Great Anonymous Doom
    All great points and agree. D-men need some seasoning more than any position. Poise and experience go a long way.
    Too bad Pongracic and his mono set him back though…he would been a nice option at CB as he was playing really well before mono.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Peter zezel.was a serb..philly.for the serb above..but he was a good serb..died of all chetniks should..but not zezel..

  50. Anonymous says:

    God bless the degenerit serb above who mocked usa miracle on ice..mark pavelic hrvat..shows you the low level class of a lot of chetniks..never trust them or sleep easy with useless turds chetniks like these fucks ..hijacking this site..

  51. Anonymous says:

    Miracle on ice.,1980,usa beats soviet union.,no serbs as usual in any important sporting event.only Mark Pavelic on the roster,,I actually think most chetniks serbs are the poster child of severe mental illness..that’s it.,!!!!!

  52. Anonymous says:

    FACT is when I take a massive shit..I look in the bowl and say. That looks like a low life weapons harmless but still a pos who cant kill unarmed woman children and elderly..all of Europe is actually traumatized by sick serbs..cant believe djokovic wants to fly with that garb flag..shameful..till Belgrade admits crimes..on the people they stole money from than tried to liquidate..

  53. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic interview ante with josip..awesome etiquette respect..right questions. ..josip briefed us with some info with are future stars..keep up the good work..jivela. hrvatska.!!!

  54. Markus says:

    @Mali Ante
    I’d hardly consider Gvardiol a “Halilovic type”. Much different player, much more physically AND mentally strong.

  55. BEĆAR says:

    Guys, I’m on the Gvardiol hype train as well, but let’s take a deep breath here.
    How does anyone know what level of mental strength he has at this point?
    If Leipzeg wanted him right away, they could have made that happen. Also, comparing a club team to a National team is difficult. A club team can ease a player in during a long season. A National team has very little room for error with experimentation.
    I’m not Dalic’s biggest fan, but I’m ok with placing some level of importance on the U21’s.

  56. Hrmic says:

    That was a great interview and awesome to hear Josip Simunic’s opinion on Croatian soccer and the under-19 squad. I got to see Simunic play a lot in the German Bundesliga and he was always a rock in the defense. He had skill but he was also a very physical player. The thing that stands out for me with Simunic is his passion. You saw that passion in his play, especially with the national team. His passion representing Croatia showed up when he got red carded against Serbia and leading the crowd after a national team match with the “Za dom spremni” chant, which he was later suspended for but he did this for his passion for Croatia. You now see that passion in his coaching with the u-19 team. Those u-19 players have a great former player and person to look up to in what it means to be a national team player and a Hrvat.

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