Otto Barić

Jun 19, 1932 - Dec 13, 2020(88)

Coaching institution

The incredible career of one of the greatest European coaches.

Herr Otto was a coaching institution! The man who breathed football. He, and with him his whole family, lived from Sunday to Sunday, from match to match. The team's victory made Otto happy for two hours, while after the defeat he would be sad for two or three days. Fortunately, he won more often!

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As one of our most famous coaches in Europe, Otto managed more than 1,800 matches during his long coaching career and coached at least 80 of the best European national team players!

What many of his fans don't know is that before his great coaching career, Otto was a great player. Even as a young man, after hard training, he became a member of Dinamo's juniors. But the promising career of a football player was interrupted by serving in the army, and then by an illness he contracted in the barracks. He was then banned from training for a year and unfortunately Otto's game never recovered.

He got his next opportunity in Metalac and Tekstilac. Despite ending up at a lower league club, Otto enjoyed the game. The frustration due to the bad conditions in the clubs was compensated by the fans, who gathered in the stands by several hundreds! And then, through the game, Barić began to discover his coaching abilities. He assigned and advised the players. This is how he later described that time: - A gene was awakening that would shape my life. –

He found a "serious" job at the Technical Faculty, while at the same time studying football at the coaching school. His coaching potential was soon recognized by the great Bogdan Cuvaj, who took him as an assistant in Lokomotiv. Then Otto moved to Germany where he took over the Opel factory near Frankfurt. He continued his football education and language learning. He coached numerous smaller clubs in Germany and then in Croatia. And then, at the beginning of the 80s, his life turned upside down!

Barić with a small team from Graz, which until yesterday held the last place in the table, entered the race for the championship title! He competed against Viennese giants Rapid and Austria! Later, the great coach revealed that the secret of success was – some knowledge and a lot of conversation. Namely, Barić would take two players for a walk every day, explain to them what he wanted from them and assure them that anything is possible! And it was like that - almost.

Although the team lost in the last round, Barić realized that he is capable of building a strong team out of nothing. This meant that he was ready to try his luck at a big club! He started coaching the Austrian club Rapid. After only a few seasons, he led the club to the championship title, but also to the final of the Cup! It was in Rapid that he earned his recognizable nickname - Otto "Maximale".

In fact, the club's players often joked with each other, imitating Otto's "Balkan German". Soccer player Hans Gröss was particularly good at imitating Barić. It so happened that Barić, at the peak of Gröss's performance, suddenly peeked into the dressing room. Of course, the main joker, "for inexplicable reasons", had to spend the next two games on the bench.

In Austria, Herr Barić was a real coaching star! This is best evidenced by the fact that, upon his decision to leave the club, the entire management rose to its feet! They insisted that their best coach stay. But Barić had other plans for himself. He wanted to realize his boyhood dream. He wanted to lead - Dinamo.

After Salzburg, Otto finally reached his favorite club. He led the Zagreb Blues in the 96/97 season. and he built a team that later shone in Europe.

From July 2002 until the end of the European Championship in Portugal in 2004, Otto Barić led the Croatian national team. But the Austrians, it seems, appreciated him more.

In the mid-nineties, he was declared the most famous person in Austria, and in 2013, during the celebration of the 120th anniversary of football, he was declared the best foreign coach of all time!

Otto Barić was so respected because he incorporated his simple and distinctive way of understanding the game into all the teams he coached. He always taught - the point is to push the ball into the opponent's net as often as possible, even though he took it out of his own net a few times!

He concluded the overview of his brilliant career with the following words: – One thing is clear. I grew up in Zagreb. I played in Zagreb. From 1945 to 1950, I was a member of Dinamo. I am a child from Zagreb. I can say that, for the most part, I succeeded. –

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