Back in 2014, every soccer fan in Australia was eagerly waiting for Romeo Jozac to replace the outgoing national technical director, Han Berger. The Dutchman had been in the role since 2009 and was credited for helping Socceroos book a place in the Brazil FIFA World Cup.
Finding his replacement was a tough decision for the football Federation, considering that Australia national team did not qualify for the knockout stages. Therefore, there was a need to have a national technical director with a history of producing the finest soccer talents in the world.
After interviewing numerous potential candidates, two final candidates stood out for this position- Croatian Romeo Jozac and Belgian Eric Abrams. However, it was Jozac that was the most preferred candidate due to his impressive CV. He has a PhD and a thesis on football, which is not a small achievement.
Apart from the impressive education and research background, he has hands-on experience with tangible results. This made him a perfect candidate for the vacant position. During his time with the Dinamo Zagreb’s academy, he oversaw the development of some of the world’s finest football players in the world.
Some of the players that have gone through Jozac hands at Dinamo Zagreb’s include Niko Kranjcar, Luka Modric, Dejan Lovren and Vedran Corluka, among others. These are just of the tangible results that added to his CV. Apart from dealing with individual clubs, he has also participated in national football organisations.
Romeo Jozac played a crucial role in shaping Croatia football. As a Croatian Football Federation technical director and chairman of the technical committee between 2013 and 2017, he helped create a foundation for the country’s soccer system. He was specifically responsible for developing talents from U21 down. It is during his tenure that Croatia dad both the U17s and U20s world cups in 2013.
The club talents that he natured and national football experience are some of the reasons why FFA wanted him to be a replacement for Han Berger. Everyone was sure that he was to sign the AU$2 million contract. He was the most promising person for Australia’s youth production line. However, this did not come to fruition. Instead, the federation picked Belgian Eric Abrams.
The main reason why Australia missed to sign Jozac for its youth production line is the mode of training. Jozac preferred isolated training rather than the FFA’s holistic-based sessions. This is one of the major reasons that made him deemed unsuitable for the job. Otherwise, he was the best guy for the job. That’s how Abrams got the job and did a great job as well.
What did Australia miss when the federation failed to sign Jozac? Well, there are many ways that he could have revolutionised the football by developing young talents. He was very passionate about improving the quality of the coaches. To him, coaching was more than licensing.
He believed that a good coach must advance in education, have a talent as a coach, intelligence, and good personality. The ability of the coach to enforce their demands was also important for coaches’ selection. This approach would have helped elevate the quality of coaching hence better players.
Player development and long-term success is another element that could have revolutionised Australian soccer. Jozac believed in introducing players in all kinds of systems and making them good in all. Players should be able to play comfortably with all formats, be it 4-3-1-2, 4-4-2, and others. Technical development and application are also crucial in Jozac’s training.
Although Eric Abrams got the job to oversee Australia’s youth production line, Romeo Jozac was always the best replacement. However, Abrams proved critics wrong during his tenure. He oversaw the implementation of several national programs, including High Performance Football Schools and Club Academy Accreditation System, which has improved talent growth and quality of players.