is a Croatian
Croats are a South Slavic ethnic group mostly living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries. There are around 4 million Croats living inside Croatia and up to 4.5 million throughout the rest of the world. Responding to political, social and economic pressure, many Croats have...
former football midfielder who represented Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...
Born in the town of Imotski
Imotski , is a small town situated on the northern side of Biokovo massif, Dalmatian hinterland, Croatia. The town was first mentioned as Imotski for the first time in the 10th century and it was held by the Turks from the fall of Bosnia until 1717 when it was captured by the Venetians. The town...
, he grew up in the nearby village of Zmijavci.
Ivan Gudelj started his player career in a club from the neighbouring village of Runovići - NK Mračaj. His coach was the father of future football star Zvonimir Boban
Zvonimir Boban is a Croatian former football midfielder who played most of his professional career for Serie A club Milan, with whom he won four Serie A titles and the Champions League. He was a member of the Croatia national team which attained third place at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, with Boban...
. Few years later, Gudelj went to play for Hajduk Split, for which he played in period 1976-1986. He quickly marked himself out as a dependable and elegant defensive midfielder, earning the moniker "Beckenbauer
Franz Anton Beckenbauer is a German football coach, manager, and former player, nicknamed Der Kaiser because of his elegant style, his leadership, his first name "Franz" , and his dominance on the football pitch...
from Zmijavci" in the Yugoslav press.
The rising career of a new European football star ended suddenly. Gudelj was forced to end his career cause of health problems, more specifically, hepatitis B. He played his last game against Red Star Belgrade
Red Star Belgrade is a football club from Belgrade, Serbia. The club is a part of the Red Star Sports Society.Red Star Belgrade is the most successful Serbian club, with a record of 25 national championships and 23 national cups in both Serbian and ex-Yugoslav competitions...
in Split on 23 September 1986 at the start of the 1986-87 league season. His precontract with Girondins de Bordeaux has never been realised.
National team career
As a youth player, he was named the best player of the 1979 European Junior championship in Vienna.
Gudelj participated in the Youth championship in 1980, together with Maradona. His excellent games for national youth team drew the attention national team head coach Miljan Miljanić
Miljan Miljanić is a retired Yugoslav football player, coach and administrator....
who called Gudelj up for the full squad the following year.
Gudelj quickly became Miljanić's favourite who soon made him the Yugoslav national team captain at the age of 21. In the end Gudelj made 33 national team appearances, scoring three goals. He was a participant in the 1982 FIFA World Cup
The 1982 FIFA World Cup, the 12th FIFA World Cup, was held in Spain from 13 June to 11 July. The tournament was won by Italy, after defeating West Germany 3–1 in the final.-Host selection:...
and Euro 1984. Because of his excellent games, French magazine L’Équipe
put him on their list of ideal team of 1982 World Cup.
He began his coaching career in 1990. As a coach, he led Croatian priests' national team and Croatian cadets national team. With the latter, he won the bronze medal in the Eurochamps 2001 in England (generation of Niko Kranjčar
Niko Kranjčar is a Croatian footballer who plays as a midfielder for Tottenham Hotspur and the Croatia national team.He represented two of the biggest clubs in his homeland, playing for Dinamo Zagreb before sparking controversy by making a move to their fierce rivals Hajduk Split in 2005...
Later, he led various clubs. He made it with Primorac from Stobreč, bringing it to Croatian top league. He also led Uskok from Klis, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Austrian club Vorwärts from Steyr and Hajduk (in 2005). He is currently the manager of the Croatia U17 National Team and successfully led them to a 4th place finish in the 2005 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship
The 2005 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship was the fourth edition of UEFA's European Under-17 Football Championship. Italy hosted the championship, during May 3-14...
As a child, Ivan Gudelj thought about becoming a priest.
Also, as a child, he was an extra
A background actor or extra is a performer in a film, television show, stage, musical, opera or ballet production, who appears in a nonspeaking, nonsinging or nondancing capacity, usually in the background...
in the TV series Prosjaci i sinovi
, made after the novel of Ivan Raos and filmed in Gudelj's home village Zmijavci. He was distinguishing from other kids in the escape scene, because Ivan Gudelj was - the fastest.