Croatia will be heading to Qatar this November to take part in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The team is riding high after managing its best finish in the competition last time out in 2018. The team has qualified for Group F, pitting it against Belgium, Canada, and Morocco. Fans and pundits are pretty confident about the nation’s prospects of making it into the knockout phase, though odds of around 66/1 to win the competition make it the 10th favourite. It hasn’t stopped bettors from placing wagers on the Croatian football team, with free bet promotions from many bookmakers helping to improve the value.
If they can go all the way in Qatar and win the biggest prize in football, the Croatian players will become some of the country’s most successful athletes in its history.
They’ll be joining a list of other big names in Croatian sport, including these legends.
Born in 1971, Goran Ivanisevic is now a 50-year-old who resides in Monte Carlo, Monaco. But before he moved to the principality, he became Croatia’s most successful tennis player, earning the tidy sum of $19.9 million in prize money in the process.
Ivanisevic turned pro in 1988 where he saw some early success in both doubles and singles competitions. However, it was his solo efforts where he had the most success.
With just one year of experience behind him, Ivanisevic reached the quarter-final of the Australian Open, a feat he repeated the following year at the French Open. After a string of almosts, the Croat finally managed a Grand Slam win at Wimbledon in 2001 after he beat Patrick Rafter in the final.
Doing so, Ivanisevic set several records. He became the first (and only) man to win the Wimbledon singles tournament as a wildcard entrant, as well as the first Croat to win the competition.
Since hanging up his racket, he’s gone on to coach several famous players, the most successful being Novak Djokovic.
Mirko Cro Cop
Mirko Filipović, who is better known as Mirko Cro Cop, is a Croatian MMA fighter and kickboxer. At 47, he is now retired, but didn’t hang up his gloves all that long ago.
Cro Cop began fighting professionally back in 1996 and continued, on and off, until 2014. During that time, he won 26 of his 34 fights, 13 of which were from knockouts. He fared even better as an MMA fighter, which he took up in 2001. Between the PRIDE Fighting Championship and the UFC, Cro Cop competed in 49 bouts, winning 35 of them and drawing another two.
During his career, Cro Cop has picked up a whole host of awards and titles, including the K-1 World Grand Prix, the Rizin World Openweight Grand Prix, and the IGF Championship. Through this success, he’s also broken several records, including being the only MMA fighter to win three World Grand Prix championships, and the only person to win K-1, Pride, and RIZIN.
Josip Skoblar is one of the most successful Croatian footballers of all time. At 81, he is long retired from playing, having competed for Zadar, OFK Belgrade, Hannover, Marseille, and Rijeka during his career. During his two decades on the pitch, he made 429 appearances and scored 254 goals in domestic competitions.
Skoblar also spent six years in the Yugoslav national team, achieving 32 caps and scoring 11 goals. Most of these were in friendly matches, but he managed one against Uruguay in the 1962 World Cup, and another against West Germany in a qualifying match for Euro 1968.
After hanging up his boots, Skoblar went on to manage 13 different teams, including the Lebanese national team and Marseille. Even at his age, he continues to work as a coach for the French team.
Skoblar’s career has been a highly decorated one, having won the Division 1 in France in both 1970-71 and 1971-72 and the Yugoslav Cup on two occasions. He also holds the record for most goals scored in a single top-flight season, the European Golden Shoe, and is the third-best all-time goalscorer for Marseille.