Most Celebrated Croatian Water Polo Coach Retires: Legacy of Ratko Rudic

Daniela Rogulj

May 9, 2020 – After an impressive coaching career that spanned almost four decades, the most celebrated Croatian water polo coach has decided he’s had enough. A look at the legacy of Ratko Rudic. 

Croatian water polo legend Ratko Rudic ended his coaching career this week after parting ways with Italian club Pro Recco, but remains a pertinent part of the water polo world. 

HRT writes that the former Croatia national team coach won nearly everything he could during his admirable career. He planned to say goodbye by raising the Champions League trophy with Pro Recco, but the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. 

Rudic has won 67 medals, both playing and coaching, of which ten were with the Croatia national team from 2005 to 2012. 

Trophies with the Croatia national team
– Gold at the 2012 London Olympics

– Gold at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne

– Gold at the European Championships in Zagreb 2010

– Gold in the World League in Almaty 2012

– Silver in the World League in Podgorica in 2009

– Silver at the FINA Cup in Oradea 2010

– Bronze at the World Championships in Rome 2009

– Bronze at the World Championships in Shanghai 2011

– Bronze in the World League in Nis 2010

– Bronze in the World League in Florence 2011

He is the only coach in the world of water polo, and the second coach in team sports in general, to lead three different national teams (Yugoslavia, Italy and Croatia) to the Olympic gold medal, and won another three gold medals with three national teams at the World Championships. 

He also competed in four consecutive Olympic finals – as a player in Moscow in 1980, and then as a coach in Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul in 1988 and Barcelona in 1992. He won medals with five national teams from three continents (Yugoslavia, Italy, USA, Croatia and Brazil).

‘Studious’, ‘a good psychologist’, ‘order, work and discipline’, ‘legend’, ‘demanding’ – this is how his former players describe the greatest water polo coach in history.

At the age of 72, Ratko Rudic decided to say goodbye to his coaching career, which lasted almost four decades. Italian club Pro Recco, with whom he planned to win three trophies with this season, will remain recorded as the last act in his magnificent coaching career. 

Rudic was quarantined in Italy for months, and finally returned to his home in Zagreb just a few days ago, where he is in two weeks of self-isolation.

While it is difficult to count all the medals and titles that Rudic won in his playing and coaching career, Rudic says his favorite is from the London Olympics in 2012 with Croatia.

“It was a tournament that we played in great style, where we dominated in all the games we played and where then, Croatia really played a modern, dynamic, safe and organized water polo,” said Rudic.

“My first wish was to bring Ratko because I knew what he carried. How is he different from the others? If 90, or 95 or 99 percent needs to be drawn from a player, he will draw 120 percent from everyone,” said the executive director of the Croatian Water Polo Federation, Perica Bukic.

“We went through the hardest and the best, and in the end, when you look at all the results, there is only praise,” said Croatia water polo representative Andro Buslje.

“He managed to adapt to the times, which only the greatest can do. I think he helped Croatian water polo a lot and laid the foundations outside the pool. Here, even today, there are top results,” says Sandro Sukno.

In addition to the gold medal in London, Ratko Rudic won the world and European gold with Croatia. He was ready to retire after London 2012, but a year later, he wanted a new challenge. He took over the national team of Brazil and worked miracles once again.

“Then, in 2015, we managed to win third place in the World League, which never happened. And what makes me especially happy is that at that time, the Brazilian Olympic Committee declared me the most successful coach in team sports. And we know the quality of team sports in Brazil,” said Rudic.

The only trophy missing in Rudic’s collection is the Champions League trophy. The plan was to make it happen this season with Pro Recco.

“I had a huge desire, motivation and energy for that last trophy, but, unfortunately, a higher power decided, and I failed to achieve it,” said the water polo great.

While we will no longer watch the ‘Golden Mustache’ by the pool, this coaching genius will continue to share his knowledge and advice in the world of water polo.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.  


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment