One of the biggest names ever to play with Hajduk FC, Vladimir Beara, passed away this Sunday, aged 85. This goalkeeper, who had his best days in 1950s and early 1960s, was considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world of his days, maybe even of all times. After all, Russian legend Lev Yashin, the only goalie ever to win Ballon d’Or once clearly said:
“I am not the best goalkeeper in the world, it is Vladimir Beara.”
Beara was born near Sinj in 1928, and began his career in Hajduk’s first team in 1947. He was a member of one of the best teams in history not only of Hajduk, but also of Croatian football, in 1950 they won Yugoslav championship undefeated, and then won two more titles in 1952 and 1955. Sixteen years later, he was assistant coach when Hajduk won another title. After Hajduk, Beara also played with Belgrade’s Crvena zvezda, winning 4 more titles, and was awarded as the best player in Yugoslavia, as the first goalkeeper ever with that honour. Brief international career included Alemania from Aachen, and Viktoria Cologne, both Germany.
However, the most important part of his career, a part that made him internationally recognized, was the one connected with the Yugoslav national teams. He collected 60 caps, from 1950 to 1959, and played three World Cups. Yugoslavia was strong side at that time, and Beara contributed in winning Olympic silver in Helsinki 1952. By far, the biggest award came in 1953, when Beara played as the member of European team against England, accompanied with another Hajduk’s legend Bernard Vukas, and Partizan Belgrade players Branko Zebec and Zlatko Čajkovski.
Witnesses of his play say he was spectacular goalie, attractive, very athletic and elegant. After all, read a story about Beara published in The Guardian few years ago. Title “Meet Yugoslavia’s ballerina Beara, once the best keeper in the world”.
In 2007 he was awarded with an introduction to the House of Glory of Split Sport.