Ivan Hitrec

Apr 13, 1911 - Oct 11, 1946(35)

Goal legend

About the greatest success of the founder of Dinamo and the urban legend of Croatian football.

If a legend can be written from Croatian football, then its hero is precisely Ivan Hitrec. The young man with a boyish smile was not only the best domestic football player of the first half of the 20th century. Ico, the famous founder of Dinamo, was a charismatic personality of his time.

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The player who will become a legend first showed himself to the people of Zagreb in the summer of 1926. As a fifteen-year-old, he played in the team of the City Swimming Pool. He delighted the audience. The cheerful boy passed his rivals as if for a joke, always with a new trick of the body. As a first-team member of HAŠK, he played against Hajduk from Split at the age of sixteen. On May 19, 1927, the "Whites" won 4:0, but little Ico was among the best on the field. He progressed incredibly fast. At the age of seventeen he played for the Zagreb seniors, and at the age of eighteen for Yugoslavia. He played 14 games in the national team and scored 9 goals.

Ico was our first soccer player of the highest world class. He played center forward and clutch, and he was tall and broad-shouldered, which is why he was nicknamed "Rucksack". Despite his height, he was unpredictable on the field. He had brilliant technique. With incredible speed and agility, he played superbly with both feet. The people of Zagreb came to the matches eagerly waiting for his tricks, which were recounted even decades later. Ica's first success took place in 1931, in one of the most famous matches ever held in Zagreb.

The game was watched by a then record 15,000 spectators from the stands. Madrid was led by the famous goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora. Zamora's greatness is best described by the fact that the Spanish award for the best goalkeeper in the season was named after him.

Posters were pasted all over Zagreb, inciting the crowd with the title "Hitrec v Zamora!". And the audience got nothing less than what they expected. Ico, the "cannon leg of Yugoslavia", then performed his legendary trick.

Technician Danko Premerl saw Hitrec in the penalty area. In the run, he passed an opposing player and passed the ball to Hitrec. Two opposing players then started running towards Ica. He couldn't turn left or right. He could only go through the middle. That move seemed impossible, and in such a stalemate, every other player would stop fighting.

But not Ico. He jerked his shoulders left and right. And in the blink of an eye, the cheated players went their separate ways, and the legendary purger flew between them! - Icooooo! - screamed the stands. And right in front of him, on the goal, stood Zamora. The famous Spanish goalkeeper was preparing for the jump. Hitrec didn't wait a second. From twelve meters, he cannonballed the ball into the very corner of the net. Screams of delight filled the stadium. The ball was indefensible! Even for Zamora! That evening, no one could believe that a twenty-year-old young man had outplayed the best Spanish players. Zagreb won 2:1 in the first Croatian night game, which took place at the Concordia stadium. Both goals were scored by Ico.

Later, Ico achieved a significant career in Switzerland's Grasshopper. In addition to his unique talent, he is also remembered as a good man with a big heart. They say that there was no better man between the two world wars. The football world was shaken by his sudden and tragic death. Namely, the beloved man from Zagreb died at the age of only 35. The Dinamo youth school was named after him, and the legend about him still lives on in the history of the city and his favorite club.

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