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Croatian debutants since 1998

Croatia had the biggest achievement in their short history during World Cup 1998 in France, finishing third, before surpassing it in World Cup 2018, finishing as runners-up in Russia. This data visualizations will show us how Croatia picked their players, from which regions and clubs, as well as which managers introduced new names for the international scene. 

The graph above shows that the biggest Croatian clubs produce the most players for the national team. It is no coincidence that most debuts were made by players who played at the time of the debut in the most successful Croatian club in this century, Dinamo Zagreb. RNK Split is in the 3rd division now, but they gave Croatia two current international players, Serie A duo Ante Rebić and Marko Rog. The visual below will show us in which regions our debutants were born. 

Croatia has 20 counties plus the capital city, Zagreb, which is counted as a separate county. We can divide Croatia into four regions: Slavonia, Dalmatia, Kvarner & Lika, Istria and Central Croatia. We can see that Dalmatia has produced the most Croatian international where the main club is Hajduk Split, which produced the second most debutants per club, but we can assume they missed on many quality players from their region letting them play for the league rivals. The last graph shows how many debutants came into the squad under each national team coach since 1998. 

It is logical that Bilić gave chances to the highest number of new players (29) because he was the longest-lasting coach. Igor Štimac had the shortest time as a coach and he gave chances to younger players with an average age of 21.64. Of course, old-school coach, Otto Barić, who led Croatia in Euro 2004 in Portugal, mostly relied on experienced players and he preferred those who plied their trade outside of Croatia, especially preferring players in Germany and Austria with nine in total in the final squad for Euro from these two leagues.


As a region, Dalmatia produced the most players for the national team. Dinamo Zagreb is the club whose players had the most first-time call-ups. Dinamo can be proud of their recruitment while Hajduk should improve scouting their region to not miss out on talented players.