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History

Croatian Football Federation (HNS) was founded on June 13th, 1912.

History
photo by: Getty Images
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Croatian Football Federation (HNS) was founded on 13 June 1912. HNS was first admitted to FIFA in 1941, and later on 3 July 1992, after Croatia gained independence. Admittance to UEFA dates back to 17 June, 1993.

Croatian football history dates back to the end of the 19th century, when the English came to Rijeka to build a factory and used their free time to play the first football matches on Croatian soil - although the Croats didn't participate.

 

The English industrialists have afterwards arrived to the Croatian city of Županja. Upon their arrival, they have started to employ local people, and then taught the young citizens of Županja their games, especially football. The English spent their after-work time playing with a small, round, compact leather ball. They passed the ball, kicked it around and soon they explained the rules of the game to the locals and finally left them the ball as a gift.

 

Football continued to be played in Županja, while the first football was found in 1979 in the Vladimir Nazor Street, in a typical border-crossing guardhouse, approximately two centuries old. The ball was made from natural leather with flaps, one of which was missing. The owner inherited the ball from his ancestors, employed by the tannin factory founded by the English.

 

The first book about football, including the game rules, has been printed in Zagreb in 1896. An improved book of rules, along with explanations and guidelines, has been published in 1908. Football has been played by Croats through the gymnastic organization Croatian Falcon, while the first Croatian sports club committed to football was the First Football and Sports Club Zagreb, founded in 1903.

 

Before the World War I, some English teams have visited Zagreb and Croatia, where they have been defeated by the Croatian club HAŠK, and after the World War I, the Split team played several matches against the teams of English battleship sailors, anchored throughout the Adriatic. Professional coaches arrived to Croatia in 1914 to train and lead Croatian teams.

 

At the beginning of the 20th century, when first football clubs were founded in Croatia, football leaders wanted to found a national football federation, but the political circumstances didn't allow it. After the first public football game between HAŠK and PNIŠK, played in Zagreb in front of the University Library in 1906, the Croats developed even bigger desire to establish a national football federation. Three years later, the Croatian Sports Federation was founded.

 

In 1912, the oldest and most prominent football employees in Croatia, Milovan Zoričić, Zvonimir Klobučar, Ivan Pipinić, Hinko Würth, Dragutin Albrecht, and Branko Gavella, took over the stage to develop and improve football in Croatia. They can therefore be considered as some of the first members of the newly founded Croatian Football Federation.

 

Croatia national team played its first international matches back in 1907 in Prague against Slavia. HNS continued its work during the World War I and II, including the struggle for equality within the Yugoslav Football Federation. Thus, Croatia participated in a joint football history within the former Yugoslavia, and numerous Croatian teams participated in the European Cup/Champions League and other UEFA competitions, while Croatian players participated in European Championships and World Cups in Yugoslav colours. Among the top goalscorers of the 1960 UEFA EURO and 1962 FIFA World Cup was Croatia striker Dražan Jerković, while Josip Skoblar won a Golden Boot as a Olympique Marseille player in 1970/71.

 

With the establishment of the sovereign, independent and democratic Republic of Croatia in early 1990s, Croatian football also became independent and the HNS started to work on further development of the most popular sport in the country and the world. Croatia was admitted to FIFA in 1992, although a first admission dates back in 1941, while in 1993 Croatia was admitted to UEFA.

 

The first modern official Croatian international match was an October 1990 friendly between Croatia and USA, played at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb. Afterwards, Croatia was successful in the EURO 1996 qualifying, and later secured the quarterfinal stage. Two years later, at the FIFA World Cup in France, the national team achieved the best result in Croatian football history, winning the bronze medal. At the same tournament, Croatia striker Davor Šuker, the current president of HNS, was the top goalscorer with six goals and has therefore won the Golden Boot award. Additionally, Šuker is the top Croatian goalscorer in history with 45 goals (69 caps).

 

Croatia was close to semifinals at the 2008 UEFA EURO, and HNS is extremely proud of successful work in youth categories. Moreover, Croatia was a praised host of the 2017 European Championships U-17.

 

The greats such as Šuker, Boban, Prosinečki, Bilić and others, under the head coach Blažević, has paved the way for the successors, who used the opportunity to leave a mark in the best European clubs. Current captain Modrić has won three Champions League titles with Real Madrid, while Mandžukić scored twice in the finals, for Bayern and Juventus.

 

The names of former captain Srna, Rakitić, Pršo, Kovač brothers, Olić, and other remain among the best Croatian ambassadors in the world. Furthermore, they remain a permanent confirmation of the quality efforts of the Croatian Football Federation.

  • HNS Presidents
  • General secretaries/Executive directors
  • Head coaches
  • Davor Šuker

    Davor
    Šuker

    2012.-

  • Vlatko Marković

    Vlatko
    Marković

    1998.-2012.

  • Branko Mikša

    Branko
    Mikša

    1997.-1998.

  • dr. Josip Šoić

    dr. Josip
    Šoić

    1996.-1997.

  • Nadan Vidošević

    Nadan
    Vidošević

    1995.-1996.

  • Đuro Brodarac

    Đuro
    Brodarac

    1995.

  • dr. Damir Matovinović (v.d.)

    dr. Damir
    Matovinović (v.d.)

    1994.-1995.

  • dr. Mladen Vedriš

    dr. Mladen
    Vedriš

    1990.-1994.

  • Paško Viđak

    Paško
    Viđak

    1988.-1990.

  • Antun Ćilić

    Antun
    Ćilić

    1986.-1988.

  • Adam Sušanj

    Adam
    Sušanj

    1985.-1986.

  • Milivoj Ražov

    Milivoj
    Ražov

    1984.-1985.

  • Dušan Veselinović

    Dušan
    Veselinović

    1982.-1984.

  • Željko Huber

    Željko
    Huber

    1981.-1982.

  • Ljubo Španjol

    Ljubo
    Španjol

    1978.-1981.

  • Vlato Bogatec

    Vlato
    Bogatec

    1976.-1978.

  • Ivan Kolić

    Ivan
    Kolić

    1971.-1976.

  • Bruno Knežević

    Bruno
    Knežević

    1966.-1971.

  • Luka Bajakić

    Luka
    Bajakić

    1965.-1966.

  • Pero Splivalo

    Pero
    Splivalo

    1959.-1965.

  • Mirko Oklobdžija

    Mirko
    Oklobdžija

    1957.-1959.

  • Vlado Ranogajec

    Vlado
    Ranogajec

    1953.-1957.

  • inž. Boris Bakrač

    inž. Boris
    Bakrač

    1950.-1953.

  • Lazo Vračarić

    Lazo
    Vračarić

    1947.-1950.

  • Mijo Hršak

    Mijo
    Hršak

    1945.-1947.

  • dr. Rinaldo Čulić

    dr. Rinaldo
    Čulić

    1944.-1945.

  • Vatroslav Petek

    Vatroslav
    Petek

    1942.-1944.

  • dr. Rudolf Hitrec

    dr. Rudolf
    Hitrec

    1941.-1942.

  • dr. Ivo Kraljević

    dr. Ivo
    Kraljević

    1939.-1941.

  • dr. Milan Graf

    dr. Milan
    Graf

    1914.-1919.

  • Vladimir Očić

    Vladimir
    Očić

    1914.

  • prof. dr. Milovan Zoričić

    prof. dr. Milovan
    Zoričić

    1912.-1914.

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  • Damir Vrbanović

    Damir
    Vrbanović

    2012.-

  • Zorislav Srebrić

    Zorislav
    Srebrić

    1998.-2012.

  • Josip Čop

    Josip
    Čop

    1996.-1998.

  • Ante Pavlović (v.d.)

    Ante
    Pavlović (v.d.)

    1995.-1996.

  • Duško Grabovac

    Duško
    Grabovac

    1990.-1995.

  • prof. Marko Jurić

    prof. Marko
    Jurić

    1981.-1990.

  • Ante Pavlović

    Ante
    Pavlović

    1962.-1981.

  • Boris Tepšić

    Boris
    Tepšić

    1959.-1962.

  • Vlado Bogatec

    Vlado
    Bogatec

    1957.-1959.

  • Mirko Oklobdžija

    Mirko
    Oklobdžija

    1954.-1957.

  • Julije Frangen

    Julije
    Frangen

    1941.-1943.

  • Valent Malović

    Valent
    Malović

    1940.-1941.

  • Vatroslav Petek

    Vatroslav
    Petek

    1941.

  • Josip Šikić

    Josip
    Šikić

    1940-1941.

  • Mijo Hršak

    Mijo
    Hršak

    1940.-1941.

  • Bogdan Cuvaj

    Bogdan
    Cuvaj

    1939.-1940.

  • Julije Frangen

    Julije
    Frangen

    1939.-1940.

  • Velimir Lamza

    Velimir
    Lamza

    1939.-1940.

  • Fran Šuklje

    Fran
    Šuklje

    1918.-1919.

  • Janko Justin

    Janko
    Justin

    1918.-1919.

  • Zvonimir Klobučar

    Zvonimir
    Klobučar

    1914.-1918.

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  • Zlatko Dalić

    Zlatko
    Dalić

    2017.-

  • Ante Čačić

    Ante
    Čačić

    2015.-2017.

  • Niko Kovač

    Niko
    Kovač

    2013.-2015.

  • Igor Štimac

    Igor
    Štimac

    2012.-2013.

  • Slaven Bilić

    Slaven
    Bilić

    2006.-2012.

  • Zlatko Kranjčar

    Zlatko
    Kranjčar

    2004.-2006.

  • Otto Barić

    Otto
    Barić

    2002.-2004.

  • Mirko Jozić

    Mirko
    Jozić

    2000.-2002.

  • Tomislav Ivić

    Tomislav
    Ivić

    1995.

  • Miroslav Blažević

    Miroslav
    Blažević

    1994.-2000.

  • Vlatko Marković

    Vlatko
    Marković

    1993.

  • Stanko Poklepović

    Stanko
    Poklepović

    1992.

  • Dražan Jerković

    Dražan
    Jerković

    1990.-1991.

  • Franjo Wölfl

    Franjo
    Wölfl

    1956.

  • Leo Lemešić

    Leo
    Lemešić

    1956.

  • Bruno Knežević

    Bruno
    Knežević

    1956.

  • Bernard Hügl

    Bernard
    Hügl

    1943.-1945.

  • Bogdan Cuvaj

    Bogdan
    Cuvaj

    1941.-1943.

  • dr.Rudolf Hitrec

    dr.Rudolf
    Hitrec

    1941.

  • Jozo Jakopić

    Jozo
    Jakopić

    1939.-1941.

  • Hugo Kinert

    Hugo
    Kinert

    1918.-1919.

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National teams at major tournaments

  • National Team
  • Youth teams
  • Futsal
1996UEFA Euro, England: Quarterfinals
1998FIFA World Cup., France: Third place
2002FIFA World Cup, Korea and Japan: Group stage
2004UEFA Euro, Portugal: Group stage
2006FIFA World Cup, Germany: Group stage
2008UEFA Euro, Austria and Switzerland: Quarterfinals
2012UEFA Euro, Poland and Ukraine: Group stage
2014FIFA World Cup, Brazil: Group Stage
2016UEFA Euro, France: Round of 16
1996UEFA U-16 European Championship, Austria: Quarterfinals
1998UEFA U-16 European Championship, Scotland: Quarterfinals
1998UEFA U-18 European Championship, Cyprus: Third place
1999FIFA U-20 World Cup, Nigeria: Knockout phase
1999UEFA U-16 European Championship, Czech Republic: Group stage
2000UEFA U-21 European Championship, Slovakia: Group stage
2000UEFA U-18 European Championship, Germany: Group stage
2001UEFA U-16 European Championship, England: Third place
2001FIFA U-17 World Cup, Trinidad and Tobago: Group stage
2004UEFA U-21 European Championship, Germany: Group stage
2005UEFA U-17 European Championship, Italy: Semi-finals
2010UEFA U-19 European Championship, France: Semi-finals
2011FIFA U-20 World Cup, Columbia: Group stage
2012UEFA U-19 European Championship, Estonia: Group Stage
2013UEFA U-17 European Championship, Slovakia: Group stage
2013FIFA U-20 World Cup, Turkey: Knockout phase
2013FIFA U-17 World Cup, UAE: Group stage
2015UEFA U-17 European Championships, Bulgaria: Quarterfinals
2015FIFA U-17 World Cup, Chile: Quarterfinals
2016UEFA U-19 European Championships, Germany: Group stage
2017UEFA U-17 European Championships, Croatia: Hosts/Group stage
1999UEFA Futsal EC, Spain: Group stage
2000FIFA Futsal WC, Guatemala: Group stage
2001UEFA Futsal EC, Russia: Group stage
2008UEFA Futsal U-21 EC, Russia: Group stage
2012UEFA Futsal EC, Croatia: Semi-finals
2014UEFA Futsal EC, Belgium: Quarter-finals
2016UEFA Futsal EC, Serbia: Group stage

Major events in Croatian football. /

Timeline

1873.
1880.
1907.
1912.
1919.
1939.
1940.
1941.
1959.
1970.
1976.
1990.
1992.
1993.
1998.
2008.
2009.
2012.
2013.
2015.
2017.
1990

First football match in Croatian territory was played in Rijeka. At the Robert Whitehead's incentive in 1873, it involved the teams of the Hungarian Railways employees and English workers.

Factory workers from England, who were employed in Županja's wood industry, brought a football in 1880. Today, at the location of the former tannin factory, where this football first appeared, stands the Stadium of the First Football in Croatia.

The first two unofficial matches of the Croatian national team were played in Prague, against Slavia. The Czechs won both matches (15:2 i 20:0).

July 13th, 1912 - A football section within Croatian Sports Federation was founded, to supervise football on national level. This event is celebrated as the foundation of the Croatian Football Federation.

April 15th, 1919 - An inaugural session of the Croatian Football Federation was convened. During the proceedings, it became the inaugural session of the Yugoslav Football Federation.

On January 30th, the representatives of football associations from Zagreb, Split and Osijek abandoned the Yugoslav Football Federation Assembly. On May 14th, the representatives of 217 Croatian clubs founded the Croatian Sports Unity, and on August 6th, 1939, Croatian Football Federation was founded as a section of Croatian Sports Unity. Thus, the relations with Yugoslav Football Federation were ended.

The first match of the Croatian national team, which then represented the state of Banovina Hrvatska, was played. On April 2nd, Croatia beat Switzerland in Zagreb 4:0. Only a month later, on May 2nd in Pecs, the first match of the youth national team was played, against Hungary.

July 17th, 1941 - HNS was admitted to FIFA.

Croatian youth national team won the first official competition in which Croatia appeared, the Championship of Yugoslav Republics, held in Celje, Slovenia (July 12th - July 19, 1959). In the final, Croatia beat Serbia 3:1.

Croatia hosted the X. UEFA Congress, in Dubrovnik, on May 8th, 1970.

Croatia hosted the final tournament of the UEFA European Championships 1976. Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb was the venue for one semi-final match (Czechoslovakia - Netherlands 3:1) and the third-place match (Netherlands - Yugoslavia 3:2).

On October 17th, 1990, Croatian national football team played a friendly against the United States at Maksimir Stadium and won 2:1.

July 3rd, 1992 - After the recognition of independence for the Republic of Croatia, FIFA confirmed Croatia's membership in the International Federation of Association Football. Interestingly enough, Croatian membership of 1941 was never cancelled.

June 17th, 1993 - HNS was admitted with full membership to UEFA. Therefore, all the conditions were fulfilled for Croatia's official matches. On October 20th of the same year, Croatia U-17 played the first official competitive match of all the Croatian national teams. In the qualifying round for the European U-17 Championship, Croatia U-17 managed to draw in Turkey (2:2), and eight days later the same team, in the same qualifying round, recorded the first win in official competitions, beating Hungary 3:1 in Pecs.

Playing only the second major tournament, and the first FIFA World Cup, Croatia won the bronze medal with a win over Netherlands in France 1998. With six goals, Davor Šuker won the award for the best goalscorer of the tournament.

Croatian Football Federation hosted the XXXII. UEFA Congress in Hypo Expo Centre in Zagreb, on January 31st, 2008.

Croatian Football Federation hosted the final tournament of the UEFA Regions' Cup 2009 in Zagreb area.

Croatian Football Federation hosted the UEFA Futsal Championship in Split and Zagreb.

Croatian Football Federation hosted the UEFA TEP strategy meeting and UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Dubrovnik.

HNS president Davor Šuker was elected to the UEFA Executive Committee, thus becoming the first Croatian in the most important UEFA body.

Croatia was a successful host of the UEFA U-17 European Championships in Rijeka, Zagreb and Varaždin.

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