Josip Joža Kuže

Born: November 13th 1952 – Died: June 16th 2013 Croatian football player (GNK Dinamo Zagreb, defender) Croatian football trainer (GNK Dinamo Zagreb among other clubs) My mistakes are my life. (Sam Beckett) Josip Kuže was a Croatian football player and football trainer. He played for GNK Dinamo Zagreb from 1971 to 1981 and among many teams worked as a trainer in GNK Dinamo Zagreb in three periods. As a football player he played defender for GNK Dinamo Zagreb. He performed in 384 matches for Dinamo in 1st Yugoslav football division; he scored 14 goals, and was a member of Dinamo team that won Yugoslav football Cup in 1980 (as shown in Picture 1). He was known as a good defender playing strictly and having accurate long passes toward midfielders.

Picture 1: Josip Kuže, member of the first GNK Dinamo Zagreb team As a trainer of GNK Dinamo Zagreb he served on several occasions, namely, as a trainer of younger teams (1986-1988), and of the first team (1989-1990, and 2005-2006). With Dinamo he won Championship of First Croatian Football Dvision in season 2005-2006 (as shown in Picture 2).

Picture 2: Kuže as trainer of the first team of GNK Dinamo Zagreb in season 2005/2006


He gained eternal love of Dinamo fans during the legendary football match between Red Star Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb on 13th of May 1990 when he defended Dinamo fans against brutality of Yugoslav / mostly Serbian police forces together with players Zvonimir Zvone Boban and Vjekoslav Vjeko Škrinjar (as shown in Picture 3). They all knew (as I was told by Vjeko Škrinjar in private conversation few years ago) that he will defend supporters of Dinamo because he was simply such a man. No other course of action was imaginable for him on such occasion.

Picture 3: Kuže protecting Dinamo fans from Yugoslav / Serbian policemen Consequently, he was admired by GNK Dinamo Zagreb supporters and fans Bad Blue Boys. Day after his death they lightened hundreds of lanterns on their north side of Dinamo’s Maksimir football stadium in Zagreb, Croatia (see Picture 4).

Picture 4: BBB at Dinamo’s stadium day after Kuže died. At his funeral they created a procession with 62 member of BBB with flares (see Picture 5).

Picture 5: 61 flares by BBB during the funeral of Josip Joža Kuže Kuže was completely different from the pattern of standard Croatian football trainers and a vast majority of them. On one hand, he was well brought up and well mannered. He graduated at law school. He liked poets, philosophers, and writers (he quoted them on numerous occasions). On the other hand, he had many vices among which perhaps the most important was gambling (he managed to lose almost everything he earned in his professional life). However, unlike most of Croatian football


coaches, he was never inventing mythical stories about himself and often publicly admitted his vices and mistakes, professional and private as well. This dichotomy should be compared to another one. On one hand, as a football player and coach he didn’t have any extra successes whatsoever. On the other hand, by his open, authentic, well-mannered, educated, and in the same time resolute and brave actions, and in fact a tragic life, he managed to become a living legend in the club and among supporters and fans of Dinamo Zagreb. In a way he came to Dinamo years after the greatest achievement in its history (wining European Cup against Leeds United in season 1966/1967), yet he knew all players of this generation. His unsuccessful career as a player and in fact as a coach in antagonism with his character, his football theory and practice, his educational and cultural level of expertise, and his emotional relation to the club and its supporters in a way symbolizes the pattern of the whole club in period from 1967 to nowadays. He was too human, that was his mistake, and as written by great Samuel Beckett, which applies to Kuže fully – “My mistakes are my life” and that is what makes him a legend. He is famous for his saying – “Who’s a bigger gambler, me who managed to gamble a way my own money, or those people who manage to gamble away the Sanctity (referred to Dinamo), the smiles on children faces, and happiness of supporters?” He died of leukaemia in 2013. References Josip Kuže, Wikipedija, (accessed: 22. 06. 2013). Josip Kuže as a trainer, Dinamo – Partizan 25. 03. 1990, You tube, (accessed: 22. 06. 2013). Josip Kuže as a trainer during match Dinamo Zagreb – Red Star Belgrade 13. 05. 1991. (accessed: 22. 06. 2013). Josip Kuže (accessed: 22. 06. 2013). Josip Kuže as a trainer 1989/1990 (accessed: 22. 06. 2013). Josip Kuže 1952 – 2013 You tube, (accessed: 22. 06. 2013). Funeral of Josip Kuže, (accessed: 22. 06. 2013). K. K.


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