Vahid Halilhodžić

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Vahid Halilhodžić
Vahid Halilhodzic 2008.jpg
Halilhodžić holding a press conference in May 2008 in Abidjan as manager of Côte d'Ivoire.
Personal information
Date of birth (1952-10-15) 15 October 1952 (age 61)
Place of birth Jablanica, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.82 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current club Algeria (manager)
Youth career
1968–1971 Velež Mostar
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1971–1981 Velež Mostar 207 (103)
1971–1972 Neretva (loan) ? (?)
1981–1986 Nantes 163 (92)
1986–1987 Paris Saint-Germain 18 (8)
Total 388 (203)
National team
1975–1978 Yugoslavia U-21 12 (12)
1976–1985 Yugoslavia 15 (8)
Teams managed
1990–1992 Velež Mostar
1993–1994 Beauvais
1997–1998 Raja Casablanca
1998–2002 Lille OSC
2002–2003 Stade Rennais
2003–2005 Paris Saint-Germain
2005–2006 Trabzonspor
2006 Ittihad Jeddah
2008–2010 Côte d'Ivoire
2010–2011 Dinamo Zagreb
2011– Algeria
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Vahid "Vaha" Halilhodžić (born 15 October 1952), Knight of the Légion d'Honneur of the French Republic,[1] is a former Bosnian football player and now a manager, currently managing the Algeria national football team.

Regarded as one of the best Bosnian players in the 1970s and 1980s Halilhodžić had successful playing spells with Velež Mostar, Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain before retiring in the mid-1980s. He also appeared for the national team and was part of the squad which won the 1978 European Under-21 Championship before earning 15 full international caps for Yugoslavia.

In the early 1990s he began managing and, after a short managing stint at his hometown club Velež, permanently moved to France in 1993. Since then he managed a number of teams in French-speaking countries and his achievements include winning the 1997 CAF Champions League with Moroccan side Raja Casablanca, leading the French side Lille OSC from second level to third place in Ligue 1 in less than three years, winning the 2004 Coupe de France with Paris Saint-Germain and qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Côte d'Ivoire and Algeria, respectively.

Club career[edit]

Early years and Velež[edit]

Born in Jablanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Halilhodžić started playing football in his early teens at the local minnows' ground Turbina Jablanica, as it was located some 100 meters from his family home.[2] According to his admission, he did not consider becoming a professional footballer at the time and instead chose to continue his formal education, moving to the nearby city of Mostar at the age of 14 to study at the local electrotechnical high school, without ever appearing for Turbina in an official match.[2] Nevertheless, it was in Mostar that he first started taking football seriously as he went on to join Yugoslav First League side Velež Mostar academy at the age of 16, in part on the insistence of his brother Salem, who at the time played for the club as a striker.[2] Halilhodžić then went on to play there at youth levels for the next two and a half years, and, upon signing a professional contract with the club, was sent on a six-month loan to second level side Neretva Metković to gain some experience.[2]

Upon his return from loan, he quickly broke into the first-team squad in the 1972–73 season, forming a successful attacking partnership with Dušan Bajević and helping Velež finish the season as league runners-up behind powerhouse Red Star Belgrade. Halilhodžić then went on to become one of the club's key players in the 1970s, appearing in a total of 376 matches and scoring 253 goals (including 207 appearances and 103 goals in the Yugoslav First League) before leaving the country in September 1981 to join French side Nantes Atlantique. Earlier that year he was instrumental in winning the club's first major silverware, scoring two goals in their 3–2 Yugoslav Cup final win against Željezničar.

Nantes and PSG[edit]

At Nantes Halilhodžić immediately became a first-team regular, scoring 7 goals in 28 appearances in the 1981–82 Division 1. The following season he helped Nantes win the French championship and was also the league's top scorer with 27 goals in 36 appearances. Halilhodžić went on to spend five years at La Beaujoire, appearing in a total of 163 league matches and scoring 92 goals for Nantes, also becoming league top scorer in the 1984–85 season with 28 goals.

In 1986 Halilhodžić decided to return to Mostar so he could spend more time with his father, who in the meantime fell seriously ill.[2] While negotiating a new contract with Nantes, he intentionally asked for a salary bigger than anything the club could afford so that he could be released and return home.[2] However, Francis Borelli, chairman of Paris Saint-Germain, stepped in and made him a "fantastic offer" to sign a one-year contract, with the intention of bringing Halilhodžić to Parc des Princes in order to strengthen the team for their upcoming 1986–87 European Cup campaign.[2]

Halilhodžić accepted the offer and went on to appear for the club in the first 18 games of the 1986–87 season, scoring 8 goals. However, his mother died during the season, and it was then that Halilhodžić decided to finally retire from active football.[2]

International career (as player)[edit]

Halilhodžić was capped 15 times for the Yugoslav national team, scoring eight goals. After debuting as a full international in June 1976, he also appeared in a few matches for Yugoslavia under-21 in 1978, helping them win the 1978 European Under-21 Championship where he claimed the Golden Player award for the best player in the tournament. Halilhodžić, who was 26 at the time, took advantage of the rule that allowed two players over the age of 21 to participate – hence him and Velimir Zajec (who had also already debuted for Yugoslavia full squad in 1977) were the two senior players brought in to strengthen the under-21 squad.

Spanning nine years, Halilhodžić's time with the national team was marked by frequently alternating ups and downs, periods of automatic inclusion followed by years-long omissions and frustrating substitute stints.

He made his debut as a substitute at Euro 76 under head coach Biće Mladinić during the third place match versus Holland that Yugoslavia lost 2–3 at Zagreb's Maksimir Stadium. The 23-year-old Halilhodžić came on for Slaviša Žungul.

Over the next couple of years he recorded two more substitute appearances – first in September 1976 in a friendly versus Italy in Rome and then in November 1977 at home versus Spain (the infamously violent qualifying home loss at Belgrade's Marakana that ended Yugoslavia's chances of going to the 1978 World Cup).

Euro 80 qualifying[edit]

It was not until October 1978 that now 26-year-old Halilhodžić (riding high from his under-21 European championship win) got his first national team start – the opening Euro 80 qualifying clash versus Spain at home in Maksimir. With his first inclusion in the starting lineup by returning coach Mladinić also came his first goal – Yugoslavia was down 0–2 in the first half when Halilhodžić pulled one back in the 44th minute for 1–2, which ended up being the final score as Yugoslavia again lost at home to Spain. With his performance versus Spain, Halilhodžić's stock was somewhat raised and as a result he got to start the next qualifier away at Romania that Yugoslavia also lost, this time 2–3. The second consecutive qualifier loss prompted the end of Biće Mladinić's time as head coach – he got replaced by interim coach Dražan Jerković. Halilhodžić played the next friendly match under Jerković, scoring a hat-trick versus Greece.

The resumption of Euro 80 qualifying five months later in April 1979 saw the return of Miljan Miljanić to the Yugoslav bench as the FA's permanent solution at the head coaching position. Miljanić made major changes to the team he inherited from Mladinić with Halilhodžić one of the many casualties. The changes worked as Yugoslavia won its remaining four qualifiers (including a win away at Spain) as well as its two friendlies versus Italy and Argentina (none of the six matches featured Halilhodžić), but the opening two losses still proved too much to overcome as Plavi finished a point behind Spain in the group and didn't progress to Euro 80.

1982 World Cup[edit]

Halilhodžić made two substitute appearances at the 1982 World Cup: playing the last 15 minutes of the controversial group match versus Spain as well as the entire second half versus Honduras. For the position of forward at the tournament Miljanić preferred Safet Sušić. In his later interviews Halilhodžić often expressed dismay with head coach Miljanić for not giving him a more prominent role in the Yugoslav team at the 1982 World Cup.

On more than one occasion in the 2000s and 2010s retired Halilhodžić expressed bitterness over not getting a bigger part in the national team during the 1970s and 1980s, sarcastically citing "the fact my surname was too long for Belgrade scoreboards", thus insinuating that he feels the fact he's Muslim may have been the reason for his modest playing time in the national team.[3][4][5]

International goals[edit]

Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 4 October 1978 Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb, Yugoslavia  Spain 1–1 1–2 Euro 1980 qualifying
2 15 November 1978 Gradski Stadium, Skopje, Yugoslavia  Greece 1–1 4–1 Balkan Cup
3 3–1
4 4–1
5 25 March 1981 Spartak Stadium, Subotica, Yugoslavia  Bulgaria 1–0 2–1 Friendly
6 29 April 1981 Poljud Stadium, Split, Yugoslavia Greece Greece 2–0 5–1 1982 World Cup qualifying
7 21 November 1981 Vojvodina Stadium, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia  Luxembourg 1–0 5–0 1982 World Cup qualifying
8 2–0

Honours[edit]

Coaching career[edit]

Raja Casablanca[edit]

In 1997 he started to train Raja Casablanca, the biggest Moroccan club. In two years, he won the Moroccan Championship and the African Champions League. These successes raised his international profile.

Lille OSC[edit]

In October 1998 he began to coach Lille OSC, which at the time was struggling to survive in the French second league. During the season 1999–2000, Lille OSC abruptly smashed the second league. Immediately during its first season in the French Ligue 1, Lille OSC arrived 3rd and thus qualified for the European Champions League. He became very famous in France because of his professionalism and tactical science, and was bestowed the nickname of "Coach Vahid". After finishing 5th in the 2001–2002 season, "Coach Vahid" decided to quit the club due to a lack of ambition of its directors.

Stade Rennais[edit]

In November 2002, he was recruited in order to rescue the French club Stade Rennais, which he did. He started to become one of the most sought after coaches in Europe, and whilst being sought by some German and Spanish clubs, joined Paris Saint Germain in Summer 2003.

Paris Saint Germain[edit]

During his first season at the helm of Paris Saint Germain, the club realised one of the greatest and most unexpected seasons in its history by winning the French Cup and arriving second in the Championship (thus qualifying for the Champions League), just behind Olympique Lyonnais. Unfortunately Halilhodžić's second season was not that successful and he was fired in February 2005 while the team was ranked 7th in the Championship.

Trabzonspor[edit]

From October 2005 to June 2006, he moved to Turkey in order to coach Trabzonspor. The club finished in 4th place, just behind the three big clubs from Istanbul; Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe. Although the team qualified for the UEFA Cup, he decided to quit Turkey.

Côte d'Ivoire national team[edit]

Halilhodžić in 2009

In May 2008 he was recruited to train the very ambitious Côte d'Ivoire national team. In a two-year unbeaten run in qualifiers, the team reached both the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. However, during the quarter finals of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations against Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire were eliminated during extra time. The disappointment was huge among the people in Côte d'Ivoire, for whom the national football team played a central social role. In addition, the country was at that period facing a significant political crisis. As a consequence of this instability, Vahid Halilhodžić was fired four months before the start of the World Cup.

Dinamo Zagreb[edit]

On 16 August 2010 he was announced as the new coach of Dinamo Zagreb, signing two and a half-year long contract. He came in as replacement for Velimir Zajec who just got fired after the team was eliminated from the Champions League qualifying after losing on penalties to Moldovan club Sheriff Tiraspol.

Right away, club fans took to Halilhodžić as Dinamo started playing attractive and a more attacking style of football. On 16 September, exactly one month after signing his contract, he led Dinamo to a somewhat improbable 2-0 victory over Villarreal at the start of the Europa League,[6][7] which enhanced Halilhodžić's reputation in Zagreb. However, despite some encouraging results, Dinamo failed to qualify for the next stage in the European competition, losing the deciding match in December at home against PAOK. Despite the setback, Halilhodžić stayed on due to support of both the fans and club management.

In the domestic league, the club was a runaway leader without any real competition. Towards the end of the season, issues arose over the renegotiation of terms of his contract and on 6 May 2011 he left the club following a vicious shouting incident with Dinamo's executive president Zdravko Mamić in the team dressing room during halftime of the league match between Dinamo and Inter Zaprešić.[8][9]

Algeria national team[edit]

On 22 June 2011, the Algerian Football Federation announced that Halilhodžić would take over the vacant Algeria national team manager position starting on 1 July.[10] On 2 July, the nomination was made official with Halilhodžić signing a three-year contract.[11] On 14 November 2012, Algeria invited Bosnia and Herzegovina (Halilhodžić's country of birth) for a friendly match. Algeria lost 0–1 in 90+3' on a rainy night in Algiers.

On 19 November 2013, Algeria secured a spot at 2014 FIFA World Cup having beaten a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations runners-up Burkina Faso 3–3 on aggregate (away goals rule), during CAF Third Round play-offs.

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 19 November 2013.
Team From To
G W D L Win %
Algeria 2 July 2011 Present 23 14 4 5 60.87

Personal life[edit]

During the Bosnian War in 1992, Halilhodžić was wounded in Mostar, but recovered within a few months.[12][13] He left Mostar in May 1993 due to threats received from the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) as the armed conflict between Bosniaks and Croats escalated in Herzegovina. Following his departure his house was looted and burned down.[14]

On 23. July 2004, during his tenure as manager of PSG, Vahid received Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur of the French Republic.[1] Halilhodžić is married and has two children. His primary residence is in Lille where his family lives.

References[edit]

External links[edit]