Robert Prosinečki

Robert Prosinečki

Prosinečki in 2012
Personal information
Full name Robert Prosinečki
Date of birth (1969-01-12) 12 January 1969
Place of birth Schwenningen, West Germany
Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Azerbaijan (head coach)
Youth career
1974–1980 Stuttgarter Kickers
1980–1986 Dinamo Zagreb
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1986–1987 Dinamo Zagreb 2 (1)
1987–1991 Red Star Belgrade 117 (25)
1991–1994 Real Madrid 55 (10)
1994–1995 Oviedo 30 (5)
1995–1996 Sevilla 20 (4)
1996–1997 Barcelona 19 (2)
1997–2000 Croatia Zagreb 50 (14)
2000 Hrvatski Dragovoljac 4 (1)
2000–2001 Standard Liège 21 (4)
2001–2002 Portsmouth 33 (9)
2002–2003 Olimpija 23 (3)
2003–2004 Zagreb 26 (5)
2005 Savski Marof 4 (1)
Total 400 (83)
National team
1987 Yugoslavia U20 5 (1)
1989–1991 Yugoslavia 15 (4)
1994–2002 Croatia 49 (10)
Teams managed
2006–2010 Croatia (assistant)
2010–2012 Red Star Belgrade
2012–2013 Kayserispor
2014– Azerbaijan

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Robert Prosinečki (Croatian pronunciation: [rǒbert prosinět͡ʃkiː]; born 12 January 1969) is a Croatian football manager and former football midfielder. He is one of the few footballers to have played for both the Spanish rival clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

After retiring from active football he worked as assistant manager of the Croatia national football team between 2006[1] and 2010, before being appointed manager of Red Star Belgrade in December 2010. In August 2012 Prosinečki left Red Star and took over Turkish club Kayserispor two months after. He was appointed as manager of Azerbaijan national football team in December 2014.

Early life and career

Prosinečki was born in Schwenningen, West Germany, into a family of Yugoslav gastarbeiters of mixed ethnicity. His father Đuro was Croatian, hailing from the Gornji Čemehovec village near Kraljevec na Sutli,[2] and his mother Emilija Đoković is Serbian, originally from the Ježevica village near Čačak.[3][4]

Young Robert spent his childhood in Germany before moving back to SR Croatia with his family in 1979, at the age of ten. By that time the youngster had already been playing in the Stuttgarter Kickers youth system. Once in Croatia, he continued in the youth setup of Dinamo Zagreb.

Club career

Dinamo Zagreb

After moving up the youth ranks for years, Prosinečki started getting occasional first team appearances during the 1986–87 league season under head coach Miroslav Blažević. On his league debut versus FK Željezničar, he managed to score a goal. By the end of the season, he recorded one more league appearance.

Wanting to secure his son's financial future, Prosinečki's father Đuro started pushing within club hierarchy for a professional contract to be given to his 18-year-old son.[5] However, coach Blažević sent him away, famously claiming that he would eat his coaching diploma if Prosinečki ever became a real football player.[6][7]

Red Star Belgrade

In the summer of 1987 Đuro Prosinečki took Robert over to Belgrade and got the professional contract they were after. Dragan Džajić, Red Star's then football director, remembers the transfer as follows:

On one of our visits to Zagreb we stayed at Hotel Esplanade where I got approached by a man who introduced himself as Robert Prosinečki's uncle. He told me his nephew wasn't happy at Dinamo and asked me if we could arrange a tryout. I told them to come to Belgrade in a couple of days and they did. At the tryout I saw this kid do wonders with the ball and I immediately asked our head coach Velibor Vasović to schedule an afternoon practice session at the main stadium so that I could see the kid one more time. It was obvious we had a classy player on our hands, and I initiated the contract proceedings right away. Our lawyer informed us that we wouldn't have to pay a transfer fee to Dinamo so Robert's father Đuro and I agreed everything in five minutes.[8]

Immediately upon arrival to his new club, Prosinečki became a first team regular and furthermore, much to Blažević's chagrin, also rapidly established himself as one of Yugoslavia's most gifted and talented players. Playing under head coach Vasović, the youngster earned a spot in Red Star's midfield alongside Dragan Stojković, Žarko Đurović, and Goran Milojević just a few weeks into the 1987–88 league season and never looked back. In October 1987 he was part of the Yugoslav youth squad which won the World Youth Championship in Chile, with Prosinečki winning the Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player. Playing in Chile meant that he was away from the club for the entire month of October, and he was already held in such high regard at Red Star that club brass attempted to bring him back from South America after the tournament's group stages, so that he could play in their 1987–88 UEFA Cup second round tie versus Club Brugge. The Yugoslav team players protested to FIFA, and João Havelange, the organisation's chairman at the time, intervened to keep Prosinečki in Chile.[9]

During his four-year spell at the club Prosinečki helped Red Star win three Yugoslav First League titles and one Yugoslav Cup, as well as participating in the club's greatest success in history by winning the 1991 European Cup.

Real Madrid

Prosinečki joined the Spanish giants during the summer 1991 for a transfer fee of 450 Million (€15 million). Led by club president Ramón Mendoza and head coach Radomir Antić, the club had huge expectations from their expensive and highly rated signing.[10] Real went through a difficult previous season, twice making a coaching change and barely getting a UEFA Cup spot by finishing third in La Liga under Antić, their third head coach that season.

However, pretty much immediately 22-year-old Prosinečki got sidelined with a string of muscular injuries. Administered by team doctors, he underwent a series of tests as well as a strict dietary regime in addition to getting forced into changing many lifestyle-related habits. Still, the first season turned out to be a complete write-off: he appeared in only three league matches with a notable shining moment - scoring a free-kick goal versus FC Barcelona in El Clásico on 19 October 1991.

Although injury-riddled as well, Prosinečki's second season at Real did provide a hint of a breakthrough with 29 league appearances and 3 goals, however, it was still far off the expectations indicated by his reputation and price tag.

His best season was incidentally his last, with six league goals.

Spain, Croatia

During the 1994 summer transfer window, Real brass decided that his physical fragility and injuries were too much to deal with and offloaded him to Real Oviedo.

He then moved to Barcelona where he spent two seasons, and then one in Sevilla.

In 1997 he returned home to play for NK Croatia Zagreb (Dinamo's name at the time).

In 2001, he moved again to Standard Liège, and soon to Portsmouth.


In summer 2001, 32-year-old Prosinečki signed for Division 1 (second-tier of the English football league system) side Portsmouth on a one-year deal.

Prosinečki is still held as a folk hero at Portsmouth FC for his marvelous one man performances in the centre of midfield. The team were saved from relegation through his goals and assists in the 2001–02 season, the highlight of which was scoring a hattrick against Barnsley.[11] At the end of the 2007-08 Premier League season the readers of The News picked Prosinečki as part of an all-time best Portsmouth eleven. He was the only non-British player to be among the selection.

After speaking with Prosinečki current Croatia international Niko Kranjčar made the decision to sign for Portsmouth in the summer of 2006.[12]

Career end

He then had one-year stints at Olimpija Ljubljana, and then at NK Zagreb.

In spring 2005 he ended his career in low tier club NK Savski Marof.[13]

Career statistics


Season Club League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Yugoslavia League Cup League Cup Continental Total
1986–87Dinamo ZagrebFirst League21
1987–88Red Star BelgradeFirst League23440
Spain League Copa del Rey Supercopa de España Europe Total
1991–92Real MadridLa Liga3100--2152
1994–95Real OviedoLa Liga30520----325
1995–96BarcelonaLa Liga192
1996–97SevillaLa Liga204
Croatia League Croatian Cup League Cup Europe Total
1997–98Croatia ZagrebPrva HNL165
2000–01Hrvatski dragovoljacPrva HNL41
Belgium League Belgian Cup League Cup Europe Total
2000–01Standard LiègeFirst Division214
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2001–02PortsmouthFirst Division339
Slovenia League Slovenian Cup League Cup Europe Total
2002–03OlimpijaSlovenian PrvaLiga233
Croatia League Croatian Cup League Cup Europe Total
2003–04NK ZagrebPrva HNL265
Total Yugoslavia 11925
Spain 12421
Croatia 8020
Belgium 204
England 339
Slovenia 233
Career total 40082


Yugoslavia national team
Croatia national team

International career

Prosinečki has 49 caps for Croatia and has scored 10 goals for his country. He was also capped 15 times, scoring four goals, for Yugoslavia. In 1987, Prosinečki was named the tournament's best player as Yugoslavia won the World Youth Championship in Chile along with fellow Croatians Zvonimir Boban, Robert Jarni, Davor Šuker and Igor Štimac. He then played for Yugoslavia at the 1990 World Cup and for Croatia at Euro 96 and the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. It was in 1998 that Prosinečki and the Croatian squad won third place in the World Cup, with Prosinečki scoring two goals along the way - this making him the only player in history to have scored World Cup finals goals for two different nations.

International goals

Results list Yugoslavia's goal
Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 20 September 1989 Stadium of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia  Greece 2 – 0 3 – 0 Friendly
2 19 June 1990 Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna, Italy  United Arab Emirates 4 – 1 4 – 1 World Cup 1990
3 12 September 1990 Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland  Northern Ireland 0 2 0 – 2 Euro 1992 Qualifying
4 16 May 1991 Stadion Crvena Zvezda, Belgrade, Yugoslavia  Faroe Islands 2 – 0 7 – 0 Euro 1992 Qualifying
Results list Croatia's goal
Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 23 March 1994 Estadio Luís Casanova, Valencia, Spain  Spain 0 1 0 – 2 Friendly
2 25 March 1995 Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb, Croatia  Ukraine 3 – 0 4 – 0 Euro 1996 Qualifying
3 26 April 1995 Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb, Croatia  Slovenia 1 – 0 2 – 0 Euro 1996 Qualifying
4 2 April 1997 Poljud, Split, Croatia  Slovenia 1 – 0 3 – 3 World Cup 1998 Qualifying
5 3 June 1998 Kantrida Stadium, Rijeka, Croatia  Iran 1 – 0 2 – 0 Friendly
6 6 June 1998 Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb, Croatia  Australia 3 – 0 7 – 0 Friendly
7 14 June 1998 Stade Félix Bollaert, Lens, France  Jamaica 1 2 1 – 3 World Cup 1998
8 11 July 1998 Parc des Princes, Paris, France  Netherlands 0 1 1 – 2 World Cup 1998
9 5 September 2001 Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino  San Marino 0 2 0 – 4 World Cup 2002 Qualifying
10 5 September 2001 Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino  San Marino 0 4 0 – 4 World Cup 2002 Qualifying

He is the only player in World Cup history to score for two different national teams. In 1990, he scored one goal for Yugoslavia in a group match against the United Arab Emirates and eight years later he added two goals for Croatia by scoring in a group match against Jamaica and in the third place match against the Netherlands. He played in a total of nine World Cup matches, three for Yugoslavia in 1990 and six for Croatia in 1998 and 2002.

Coaching career

Prosinečki began his coaching career in 2006 as an assistant to head coach Slaven Bilić at the Croatian national football team.

Red Star Belgrade

In December 2010 during the mid-season winter break in 2010-11 Serbian Superliga, Prosinečki was announced as the new head coach of Red Star Belgrade. Returning to the club of his biggest playing successes, the announcement made major headlines all over the Balkans[15][16] and also generated plenty of buzz in the rest of Europe.[17][18][19][20][21][22] The angle of Prosinečki being the first Croatian to coach in Serbia following the Yugoslav Wars also got a lot of attention.[23][24] His annual sallary was not officially disclosed, however, Serbian press speculated with figures from US$100,000 to $250,000 per year.[25]

Fifteen matches into the season, the famous yet recently beleaguered Serbian club was in second place, five points behind league leaders FK Partizan. Red Star brass led by club president Vladan Lukić (Prosinečki's former teammate at Marakana) thus steered clear of stating league title as an explicit requirement for the club legend, still, it was understood that making an outside run at the title remained a priority. Prosinečki announced his intent to mold Red Star into an attacking team that utilizes short-passing game to break down opponents, picking Slobodan Marović and Žarko Đurović (also Red Star colleagues from playing days) to be his assistants. Immediately, however, the issue of Prosinečki's pro coaching licence came up when it was discovered that he may not yet meet criteria for one, which according to Serbian Superliga rules would preclude him from being physically present on the sidelines during official matches. The things were straightened out by the time league restarted and Prosinečki's bench debut, which was scheduled to take place versus FK Smederevo at Marakana on 26 February 2011.

His side finished in second place, six points off bitter rivals FK Partizan. The following season, the 2011/12 season, his side again finished in second place and again second to Partizan, this time the margin was doubled from six to twelve points. In August 2012 Prosinečki resigned as a manager of Red Star.[26]


During next two months Prosinečki was linked to various teams, most notably Croatian sides HNK Rijeka and RNK Split, his former team Olimpija Ljubljana and even Slovenia national team. But on 15 October 2012 it was surprisingly announced that Prosinečki will replace Shota Arveladze as a manager of struggling Kayserispor in Turkish Super League.[27] He became the new head coach of Kayserispor at the 8th week of the 2012–13 Süper Lig, and he gained 13 wins in 27 league matches and finished the league at 5th position.

The start of the 2013–14 season was not so successful for Prosinečki and his team. After achieving only one victory in 11 rounds, Kayserispor was at the bottom of the league table. In November 2013 Prosinečki resigned but his resignation was not accepted by the club board.[28] A month and a half later, the club record had not improved. Kayserispor was 17th on the Süper Lig table and lost to Tokatspor in the Turkish Cup. On the last days of 2013 Prosinečki definitively resigned as manager of Kayserispor.[29]


On 1 December 2014, Prosinečki was named as new manager of Azerbaijan national football team, replacing Berti Vogts with a two-year contract until UEFA Euro 2016. His contract fee was reported around 1.5 million dollars.

Managerial statistics

As of 11 November 2016
Team From To Record
Red Star Belgrade 2010 2012 46 32 8 6 69.57
Kayserispor 2012 2013 48 18 12 18 37.50
Azerbaijan 2014 Present 15 4 6 5 26.67
Total 109 54 26 29 49.54



Red Star Belgrade
Real Madrid
Dinamo Zagreb
Olimpija Ljubljana




As manager

Red Star Belgrade



Relationship with Ćiro Blažević

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, parallel with Prosinečki's rise to football superstardom at Red Star Belgrade, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona as well as Yugoslav and Croatian national teams, the story of him being chased away from Dinamo Zagreb in 1987 by the famous coach Ćiro Blažević grew in Croatian and Yugoslav media and public. To this day it is often cited and referenced as an example of football mismanagement, poor judgement, and bad work with youth categories.[32] Colourful Blažević, the villain of the piece, rarely talked on the record about the circumstances of Prosinečki's departure. However, in 2010, Blažević deflected responsibility for the flap by claiming he actually gave the youngster a four-year contract that was eventually, according to Blažević, annulled by Dinamo president Ante Pavlović on a technicality due to not being processed administratively by the subfederation responsible. On the same occasion, Blažević went on to accuse Prosinečki's father Đuro of not negotiating in good faith with Dinamo by saying "he already had his combination with Red Star". Asked about his famous quote about eating his diploma if Prosinečki ever became a player, Blažević responded that he only used it as a motivation tool.[33]

Blažević and Prosinečki would reignite their simmering feud eleven years later during the 1998 World Cup where they were part of the Croatian national team that made it all the way to the semifinals. In the semifinal match that Croatia lost 1-2 versus eventual winners France after going ahead 1-0, Blažević decided to leave 29-year-old Prosinečki on the bench (he eventually entered the contest in the 90th minute, coming on for Mario Stanić), which led to a lot of criticism.

Court case versus Dinamo

In the summer of 1997, 28-year-old Prosinečki came back to Zagreb in order to play for the club where he started his professional career. Now called Croatia Zagreb, the club was turned into a state project bankrolled by the Croatian government's highest echelons and personally supported by president Franjo Tuđman. By 2000, Prosinečki left Croatia Zagreb, but in late 2001 decided to initiate a lawsuit against the club (whose name was now restored back to Dinamo after continuous fan protests) over DM1,550,000 (€750,000) in unpaid wages.[34]

Years later in 2009, court ruled against Prosinečki, mostly due to asserting that the lawsuit against Dinamo had no merit since Prosinečki played for Croatia Zagreb, and not Dinamo Zagreb.[35] Commenting on the verdict in late 2009, Prosinečki said he was cheated out of his money.[36]


  1. Croatia back among the big boys
  2. "Umro otac Robija Prosinečkog" (in Croatian). 30 July 2003. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  3. Nedeljković, D. (10 December 2010). "Emilija Prosinečki: Raduje me što je moj Robert opet u Srbiji!" (in Serbian). Press. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  4. Trtović, V. (20 May 2011). "Šumadija na nogama: Ježevica dočekuje svog Robija" (in Serbian). Press. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  5. Flak, Igor (15 March 2010). "Genijalci Prosinečki i Pjanić raskrinkali su Ćirinu taštinu" (in Croatian). Večernji list. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  6. Jajčinović, Milan (20 November 1998). "Hrvatski jal" (in Croatian). Vjesnik. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  7. Jurišić, Predrag (25 June 2000). "Drugi odlazak "Velikog Žutog" - najtužniji dan za hrvatski nogomet" (PDF) (in Croatian). Vjesnik. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  8. L. S., D. (10 December 2010). "Džajić: Najbitnije da Prosinečki sruši Partizan" (in Serbian). Večernje novosti. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  9. Wilson, Jonathan (24 July 2007). "Yugoslavia in the 90s: the greatest team there never was?". Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  10. Nuri Sahin: A new crystal player?;from MARCA, 2 September 2011
  11. "Portsmouth 4-4 Barnsley". BBC. 2 February 2002. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  12. Kranjčar: Prosinečki je presudio - Sport -
  13. Prosinečki Savski Marof - Sport - Savski Marof
  15. Prosinečki: Zvezda je veliki izazov i želim postati njen trener;, 5 December 2010
  16. Robert Prosinečki je trener Crvene zvezde;, December 2010
  17. Crvena Zvezda look to old hero Prosinečki;, 9 December 2010
  18. Robert Prosinecki faces tough task to orchestrate Red Star revolution;The Guardian Blog, 14 December 2010
  19. Prosinecki to coach Red Star;, 9 December 2010
  20. World Football - Prosinecki takes Red Star reins;Eurosport, 9 December 2010
  21. Portsmouth old boy Robert Prosinecki named new coach of Red Star Belgrade;Daily Mail, 10 December 2010
  22. Official: Robert Prosinecki Named New Red Star Belgrade Coach;, 10December 2010
  23. Ex-Portsmouth star Prosinecki bridging divide with Red Star Belgrade job;, 11 December 2010
  24. Beograd je uvijek bio Robijev grad, a Zvezda njegov klub;, 8 December 2010
  25. Prosinečki već "zna" postavu Zvezde;, 10 December 2010
  26. Prosinečki quits as Red Star FC coach
  27. "Yeni Hocamız Robert Prosinecki" (in Turkish). Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  28. "VIDEO: BILIĆ SMIJENIO PROSINEČKOG 'Više nisam trener Kayserispora, kriv sam za loše rezultate'" (in Croatian). 2013-11-09. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  29. "Prosinečki više nije trener Kayserispora!" (in Croatian). 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2014-01-02.
  32. Flak, Igor (15 March 2010). "Genijalci Prosinečki i Pjanić raskrinkali su Ćirinu taštinu" (in Croatian). Večernji list. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  33. Ćiro otkrio tajnu kako je Prosinečki završio u Zvezdi!;, 4 June 2010
  34. Prosinečki tuži Dinamo zbog neisplaćenih 1,550.000 DEM;Vjesnik, 20 November 2001
  35. Prosinečki: Kao da nikad nisam igrao za Dinamo;, 13 November 2009
  36. interview;December 2009
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