By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | October 17, 2019
Dr. Romeo Jozak has been to India thrice in five years and twice in two. Tall and lanky, he does not come across as a powerhouse of soccer that he is, but this humble lad who loves a good company.
Yes, his boyish good looks and disarming smile hide the fact that this here is a shrewd tactician when it comes to Football and the soccer field.
A Ph.D in soccer from the University of Zagreb in Croatia, Dr. Jozak has a keen eye for talent. Most of the current players who make the Croatian National team have gone through the rigorous grind he put them through as teenagers when he was the Academy Director at Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia’s Leading Football Academy ) and later as Technical Director at the Croatian Football Federation.
It’s no wonder then that he is friends with all of them. He remembers Luka Modric as this skinny lad who had a hunger to succeed. “I wondered how he would fare on the international scene,” he told me last year when he was down. “He has surprised everyone at the CFF with his rise, especially those who knew him as a kid.”
That he made a clean sweep of all the major soccer awards for 2018-19 was the icing on the cake for his hard work and a celebration of the underdog as well as that of Croatia’s success in soccer.
As for goalkeeper Danijel Subašić playing the final against France in the World Cup in Russia last year he says, “Subašić was injured in the match against Russia. He had a tight semi-final against England. The French players knew that. But not playing him and playing him would have had the same effect. People would have lambasted the coach (Dalic Zlatko) for not playing him.”
As Dr. Jozak was getting ready to catch his flight for Phuket, on Tuesday, he kept moving onto the television arena at Hotel Novotel, Juhu, Mumbai, to catch the India-Bangladesh World Cup Qualifier tie on the big screen. Ask him for his opinion on the Indian squad and he says, “One has to gauge performances of any team over a period of time.” But yes, he is of the opinion that great teams come from a rigorous training from the lower level.
On a sabbatical for a few weeks after he quit his job as Head Coach of Kuwait National team, Dr Jozak is weighing his options before he signs on the dotted line for his next big move. On his India sojourns, he informs that he has business interests and good friends who he loves to spend time with.
Before flying off to Phuket, Dr Jozak met with the Salesian decision-makers at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, Mumbai, discussing a School of Soccer, apart from how youngsters from disadvantaged background have that hunger to succeed.
Thanks Martín for getting Don Bosco Oratory on board…. it was worth every second in time.
Always great! Inspirational and well written.