Former AC Milan and Socceroo goalkeeper Željko Kalac has been hired by Croatian side NK Urania Baška Voda. He is now joined by fellow Australian Kristian Slunjski.
The 48-year old had a long playing career both in Australia and Europe, featuring for a number of clubs including Sydney United, Leicester City, Perugia and AC Milan. He also represented Australia and received 54 caps. At 2.02 meters tall he remains the tallest player to have played for the Socceroos.
Željko Kalac Head Coaching Position
- Former Socceroo went to Croatia after his release from Greek side Xanthi.
- Took over NK Urania Baška Voda eight games into this season.
- Fellow Australia Kristian Slunjski signed with the club earlier last week.
Since his retirement from playing, Kalac has built a decade long career in management, largely serving as a goalkeeping coach for a number teams. His first head coaching position occurred last year with Sydney FC. He stepped down from the position and followed Tony Popovic to Greece.
He has coached alongside current Melbourne Victory Head Coach Tony Popovic on a number of occasions including at Western Sydney Wanderers, Turkish side Karabüksport and most recently with Greek side Xanthi.
According to croatiaweek.com, Kalac chose to spend time in Croatia after his release from the Greek club as it was difficult for him to return to Australia due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The publication quotes Kalac saying the following last February:
“It is a good opportunity for me to have a look around what is happening here in Croatia. There is a lot of football happening so I will use the time for education and see what is next in store."
Kalac now takes control of NK Urania Baška Voda who play in the 3.HNL South, the Croatian third division of football. The club is situated in Brela, south of Split. According to Balkan paper 24 Sata, Kalac received the position after former head coach Željko Mijač was sacked for poor performances.
Speaking to RTL.HR, Kalac was quoted as saying the following about his new position: "Everyone tells me that the Third HNL is difficult, but you have to start somewhere." According to the publication Kalac is well known in Croatia and his new players were quite surprised by his appointment.
Kalac has a big job on this hands. He took control of the club two weeks ago . At the time of his hire Urania had only registered one point in the first seven rounds of play. The situation has not improved under Kalac's first two matches in charge, with the former Socceroo seeing his team lose twice in the last two weeks.
When he is not coaching, Kalac has been found spending time with former Socceroos teammate Mark Viduka who lives in Zagreb and runs a coffee shop.
Flat white please barista - and a splint for my crooked thumb if you have one? The big arachnid dropped in to another @GGener8tion legendâ€™s coffee shop in Croatia today 😉âš½ï¸ 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/qZGaksP8eO— Shim, Spider & so much Moore.. (@ShimMuch) February 25, 2021
Kalac is not the only Australian at Urania. Kristian Slunjski joined the side this week after leaving Croatian side P. Biograd. The Australian born 19-year old first moved to Croatia in 2017 with his parents and two brothers.
According to The World Game, prior to the move he had gone through Football NSW's Project 22 program and had played at the youth grades for Sydney FC and APIA Leichardt. Slunjski made his first appearance for Urania this past weekend in the 3-0 defeat to Sloga according to the Croatian Football Federation.
The full 3. HNL schedule and ladder can be found using the following link.