A gifted playmaker and pass master, Zvonimir enjoyed nine seasons at AC Milan where he lifted the 1994 Champions League and helped his team to 4 Serie A titles. He also enjoyed a successful international career with Croatia becoming an integral part of the side that reached the semi finals in France ’98 before finishing on an impressive tally of 12 goals from 51 appearances for his country. Before the civil war he was also in the Yugoslav national team that won the 1987 youth World Championship.
As well as being a legend in his own right on the football field, he was given the role of ‘national hero’ for his actions after an infamous football match between his Dinamo Zagreb side and the Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda). It was in this football match that Boban risked his own career to defend a young Dinamo supporter from the Yugoslav authorities.
The famous ‘kick heard all around the Balkans’ was adopted by Croatians as a symbol of protest against the struggle for independence from Yugoslavia and many still believe that this event was the first ‘domino’ to fall on the road to the Croatian war of independence. I do not consider myself to be anywhere near a staunch nationalist, as we all know that there have been some shameful consequences throughout history due to fundamentalism, however one must appreciate both the risk and the gesture that Boban made that day.
In addition, the policeman he kicked was actually a Bosnian Muslim, not a Serbian. I think this picture sums up perfectly the turbulent situation in Yugoslavia at that time.
A brilliant character who in my opinion deserves a place in midfield for my all-time ‘cult’ world XI.
Here are some videos for your enjoyment…
Check back next week for the next installment!