Otto Barić

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

Coaching institution

The incredible career of one of the greatest European coaches.

Herr Barić was a coaching institution. The man who lived for football. His whole family lived from Sunday to Sunday, from game to game. The victory of his team made Otto happy for two hours, while after the defeat he would be sad for two or three days. Fortunately, because of the many victories, he was happy more often. In his long coaching career, he led more than 1,800 serious matches, and coached at least eighty national team members from various countries.

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Many do not know that Barić was an outstanding football player before his coaching career. He joined Dinamo's junior team. The prospective player's career was interrupted by his service in the army, but also by an illness he contracted in the barracks. He was banned from training for a year. His game hasn't recovered since. Despite this, he played in Metalac and Tekstilac. The frustration due to the bad conditions in the clubs was repaired by the fans who gathered in hundreds. And then, through the game, Barić began to discover his coaching abilities. He assigned and advised the players, describing that time like this: - The gene that will shape my life was awakening. – He soon got a job at the Technical Faculty, but he also studied football at the coaching school. The coaching potential was soon recognized by the great Bogdan Cuvaj, who took Barić as an assistant in Lokomotiv. Soon after, he moved to Germany where he took over the factory composition of Opel near Frankfurt. He continued his football education and studied German. He coached numerous smaller clubs in Germany and then in Croatia. And then, at the beginning of the 80s, everything changed.

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 he said that the secret of success was – some knowledge and a lot of conversation. He would take two players for a walk, explain to them what he wanted from them and assure them that anything was possible. And it was almost like that.

They lost the championship title in the last round, but Barić realized that he is capable of building a strong team out of nothing. He was ready for a bigger club. He started coaching the Austrian club Rapid, which he led to the championship title, as well as to the Cup final. In this club, he earned his recognizable nickname "Maximale". Namely, the club's players often joked, imitating his German-Croatian speech. Hans Gröss was particularly good at this. Once, at the peak of Gröss's performance, Barić entered the dressing room. Of course, the joker spent the next two games on the bench, and the football players were dying of laughter. In Austria, Herr Barić was a coaching star. When he wanted to leave the club, the entire management rose to their feet, insisting that he stay. But Barić wanted to realize his boyhood dream. He wanted to lead Dinamo. After Salzburg, Otto finally came to the bench of 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, he led the Croatian national team. But the Austrians appreciated him more. In the mid-nineties, when Salzburg played in the Champions League with Austria, he was declared the most famous person in Austria, and in 2013, during the celebration of the 120th anniversary of football in Austria, he was declared the best foreign coach of all time. In all the teams he coached, he incorporated his peculiar way of understanding the game - the point is to push the ball into the opponent's net as often as possible, even if he took it out of his own net a few times.

And he concluded the review of his great 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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