Niko Kovač

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Niko Kovač
Niko Kovac23.jpg
Kovač with Red Bull Salzburg.
Personal information
Date of birth (1971-10-15) 15 October 1971 (age 46)
Place of birth West Berlin, Germany
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Playing position Central midfielder
Club information
Current team
Eintracht Frankfurt (manager)
Youth career
1987–1989 Rapide Wedding
1989–1990 Hertha Zehlendorf
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1990–1991 Hertha Zehlendorf 25 (7)
1991 Hertha BSC II 12 (1)
1992–1996 Hertha BSC 148 (15)
1996–1999 Bayer Leverkusen 77 (8)
1999–2001 Hamburger SV 55 (12)
2001–2003 Bayern Munich 34 (3)
2003–2006 Hertha BSC 75 (8)
2006–2009 Red Bull Salzburg 65 (9)
Total 491 (63)
National team
1996–2008 Croatia 83 (14)
Teams managed
2009–2011 Red Bull Salzburg (academy)
2011–2012 Red Bull Salzburg (assistant)
2012–2013 Croatia U21
2013–2015 Croatia
2016– Eintracht Frankfurt
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Niko Kovač (Croatian pronunciation: [nǐːko kǒʋaːt͡ʃ]; born 15 October 1971) is a Croatian former footballer and current coach of Eintracht Frankfurt, having also managed the Croatia national team.

Kovač was the long-standing captain of the Croatia national team before retiring from international football in January 2009. A defensive midfielder who was known for his excellent passing and tackling skills, Kovač was, at the time of his retirement, the oldest player in the Croatian squad and had been an important motivation raiser for them, having captained them at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2008. He has also enjoyed a high level of top club action, having spent most of his club career in the German Bundesliga. He ended his playing career with Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg, where he then took the non-playing role of the reserve team coach and eventually became assistant manager under team manager Ricardo Moniz. In January 2013, Kovač took over the Croatia national under-21 team and in October 2013 he took over the Croatia senior team following the dismissal of Igor Štimac.

He is the older brother of Robert Kovač.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in West Berlin to a family hailing from Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kovač began playing football at local club Hertha Zehlendorf and became a member of their first team in the summer of 1989 at age 17. He moved to Hertha BSC in the summer of 1991 and started his professional career with the club that competed in the 2. Bundesliga at the time.

Bayer Leverkusen[edit]

In the summer of 1996, Kovač left Hertha, still a 2. Bundesliga side at the time, for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. He made his Bundesliga debut on 17 August 1996, appearing as a half-time substitute in the club's opening match of the 1996–97 season, a 4–2 home victory over Borussia Dortmund. He appeared in 32 Bundesliga matches in his first season with Leverkusen, also scoring three goals. However, he mostly played as a substitute in the following two seasons and missed several matches in the 1997–98 season after sustaining an injury in the club's home match against VfB Stuttgart in December 1997. In three seasons with Bayer Leverkusen, Kovač made 77 Bundesliga appearances and scored eight goals in league competition. At the club, he was teammates with his younger brother Robert for the first time in his professional career.

Hamburg[edit]

Kovač joined Hamburger SV in the summer of 1999 and spent two seasons with the club, making 55 Bundesliga appearances and scoring 12 goals in the Bundesliga. In the summer of 2001, he joined Bayern Munich, where he was once again teammates with his younger brother Robert.

Bayern Munich[edit]

However, Kovač did not manage to establish himself as a regular at the club and left Bayern for a second stint with Hertha BSC after two seasons in the summer of 2003. He appeared in 34 Bundesliga matches and scored three goals for Bayern in the league.

Hertha BSC[edit]

Kovač then signed for Hertha again. He made 75 Bundesliga appearances for Hertha and scored eight goals for the club in the league.

Red Bull Salzburg[edit]

After the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Kovač left Hertha after three seasons for Austrian Bundesliga side Red Bull Salzburg. He was a regular in the Salzburg team and also appeared in all of their four UEFA Champions League qualifiers in the summer of 2006. On 26 August 2006, he scored his first goal for Red Bull Salzburg in the Bundesliga, netting the second goal in their 4–0 home victory over Wacker Tirol. He signed one more year until summer 2009 in May 2008. On 29 May 2009, Kovač left after three years with Red Bull and retired from professional football. He played his last match for Red Bull in a friendly against former club Bayern Munich; he was substituted off after the first 15 minutes.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

Red Bull Salzburg: reserve team coach and first team[edit]

During Red Bull Salzburg match as assistant coach

After his retirement from professional football, Kovač became coach of the second squad of Red Bull Salzburg, Red Bull Juniors, from 16 June 2009[2] to 7 April 2011.[3] In the 2009–10 season, he finished in sixth place[4] and were knocked out in the Austrian Cup in the second round in a shootout.[5] He was with the second team until 7 April 2011.[3] His final match was a 1–1 draw against SV Seekirchen.[6] In 2011, he was promoted to being assistant coach of the first squad[7] together with Ricardo Moniz as head coach. After Moniz resigned as a first-team coach in June 2012, Kovač was one of the favourites for taking his position. However, the position went to Roger Schmidt and Kovač subsequently left Salzburg.

Croatia: the under 21 team and senior team[edit]

On 21 January 2013, Igor Štimac, head coach of the Croatia national team, announced that Kovač, alongside his brother Robert, would take over as the under-21 team head coach.[8] His task was to qualify for the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championships. Croatia were drawn in Group 5 of the qualifying competition, together with Switzerland, Ukraine, Latvia and Liechtenstein. In the first four games Croatia got the maximum of 12 points with a goal difference of 13–0. He debuted with a 5–0 away win against Liechtenstein, before he brought two away wins against the group favourites Ukraine and Switzerland.

On 16 October 2013, Davor Šuker, president of the Croatian Football Federation (CFF), announced that Niko Kovač would take over as caretaker manager of the Croatia senior team.[9] He replaced Štimac, who was sacked after Croatia scraped into the World Cup playoffs having taken only one point from their last four qualifiers. However, one day later, in an inaugural press conference, Šuker stated the CFF signed a two-year contract with Kovač and his staff including his brother Robert Kovač, Vatroslav Mihačić and Goran Lacković, until the end of Croatia's Euro 2016 campaign.[10] Croatia managed to qualify for the 2014 World cup in Brazil after a win against Iceland (2–0).[11] On 9 September 2015, CFF terminated Kovač's contract following a 2–0 loss to Norway.[12]

Eintracht Frankfurt[edit]

Kovač was appointed as the head coach of Eintracht Frankfurt on 8 March 2016.[13] his debut was a 3–0 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach.[14] He managed to achieve a 1–0 win over Borussia Dortmund,[15] however, the club was only able to finish the season in 16th place,[16] facing a relegation playoff against 1. FC Nürnberg. After drawing the first leg 1–1 in Frankfurt,[17] Kovač ensured Eintracht's survival in the Bundesliga after Haris Seferović's goal won the second leg 1–0.[18]

International career[edit]

Kovač made his senior international debut in Croatia's friendly match against Morocco on 11 December 1996 in Casablanca. He subsequently also appeared in three qualifying matches for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, but missed the finals in France because he did not fully recover from injury until the beginning of the preparations for the tournament. He was subsequently not part of the national team for two years before making his comeback in a friendly match against France in November 1999.

At international level, Kovač played for Croatia in five qualifying matches for the 2002 World Cup and scored one goal in Croatia's 4–0 victory away against San Marino. At the final tournament, he appeared as a starting player in all three group matches before Croatia was eliminated from the tournament with a third-place finish in their group. He was also a regular in UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying, making seven appearances and scoring two goals in away matches, the 1–0 winner against Estonia and the opening goal in the team's 3–0 victory over Andorra. He also played the entire three group matches played by the Croatian team at the final Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal and scored the opening goal in the final group match against England. However, Croatia lost the match 4–2 and was once again eliminated from the tournament as the third-placed nation in its group.

After Euro 2004, Kovač became the Croatia national team's captain and led the team through the qualifying campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals in Germany. He appeared in nine of ten qualifying matches and scored two goals, both in Croatia's 4–0 victory over Iceland at home in Zagreb. At the final tournament, he appeared in all three of Croatia's group matches, despite sustaining an injury which forced him to leave the pitch after 40 minutes of the team's opening match against Brazil. Kovač scored the goal that put Croatia 2–1 up in the final group match against Australia.[19] However, the match ended in a 2–2 draw and Croatia was eliminated by virtue of finishing third in the group. This was the third consecutive time this had happened in a major tournament.

Euro 2008 was a bittersweet campaign for captain Kovač. His sterling performances against Germany and Turkey ultimately unrewarded in what could prove to be his last major tournament. Against Germany, he was peerless, producing a man of the match display alongside Luka Modrić whilst against Turkey, he reduced his opponents to pot shots from distance as they rarely broke through his screening protection of the back four. Before and after that game, Kovač reiterated his intention to retire from international football at the end of Euro 2008, however, after conversation with Slaven Bilić, it would seem he feels there is "unfinished business" to take care of.

Kovač finally announced his international retirement on 7 January 2009, stating a desire that younger players should be given experience in the Croatia side.

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

Club Season League Cup1 Continental2 Other3 Total
League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Hertha BSC 1991–92 2. Bundesliga Nord 2 0 0 0 10 0 12 0
1992–93 2. Bundesliga 42 1 3 0 45 1
1993–94 32 1 0 0 32 1
1994–95 31 2 1 0 32 2
1995–96 31 11 2 0 33 11
Totals 138 15 6 0 10 0 154 15
Bayer Leverkusen 1996–97 Bundesliga 32 3 1 0 33 3
1997–98 18 1 3 1 7 0 1 0 29 2
1998–99 27 4 1 0 4 0 2 0 34 4
Totals 77 8 5 1 11 0 3 0 96 9
Hamburger SV 1999–2000 Bundesliga 30 8 1 0 31 8
2000–01 25 4 1 0 9 1 1 0 36 5
Totals 55 12 2 0 9 1 1 0 67 13
Bayern Munich 2001–02 Bundesliga 16 2 3 1 4 0 3 0 26 3
2002–03 18 1 4 0 2 1 1 0 25 2
Totals 34 3 7 1 6 1 4 0 51 5
Hertha BSC 2003–04 Bundesliga 17 1 3 0 1 0 21 1
2004–05 30 4 1 0 31 4
2005–06 28 3 3 1 4 0 1 0 36 4
Totals 75 8 7 1 5 0 1 0 88 9
Red Bull Salzburg 2006–07 Austrian Bundesliga 28 6 1 0 6 0 35 6
2007–08 25 3 4 0 29 3
2008–09 12 0 0 0 3 0 15 0
Totals 65 9 1 0 13 0 79 9
Career totals 444 55 28 3 44 2 19 0 535 60
Source:[20]

International goals[edit]

Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 29 March 2000 Maksimir, Zagreb  Germany
1 – 1
1 – 1
Friendly
2 5 September 2001 Olimpico, Serravalle  San Marino
1 – 0
4 – 0
World Cup 2002 Qualifying
3 8 May 2002 PMFC, Pécs  Hungary
2 – 0
2 – 0
Friendly
4 11 June 2003 A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn  Estonia
1 – 0
1 – 0
Euro 2004 Qualifying
5 6 September 2003 Comunal, Aixovall  Andorra
1 – 0
3 – 0
Euro 2004 Qualifying
6 21 June 2004 Estádio da Luz, Lisbon  England
1 – 0
2 – 4
Euro 2004
7–8 26 March 2005 Maksimir, Zagreb  Iceland
1 – 0
4 – 0
World Cup 2006 Qualifying
3 – 0
9 22 June 2006 Gottlieb-Daimler, Stuttgart  Australia
2 – 1
2 – 2
World Cup 2006
10–11 22 August 2007 Koševo, Sarajevo  Bosnia and Herzegovina
3 – 2
5 – 3
Friendly
5 – 3
12 24 May 2008 Kantrida, Rijeka  Moldova
1 – 0
1 – 0
Friendly
13 31 May 2008 Szusza Ferenc, Budapest  Hungary
1 – 0
1 – 1
Friendly
14 6 September 2008 Maksimir, Zagreb  Kazakhstan
1 – 0
3 – 0
World Cup 2010 Qualifying

Managerial[edit]

As of 12 December 2017
Team From To Record
G W D L Win % Ref.
Red Bull Salzburg (A) 16 June 2009[2] 7 April 2011[3] 54 25 11 18 046.30 [5][6]
Croatia 16 October 2013[9] 9 September 2015[12] 19 10 5 4 052.63
Eintracht Frankfurt 8 March 2016[13] Present 70 29 16 25 041.43 [21]
Total 143 64 32 47 044.76

Honours[edit]

Bayern Munich
Red Bull Salzburg

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Torloses Remis zwischen Salzburg und Bayern" (in German). goal.com. 10 July 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Kovac coacht Junioren" (in German). kicker. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "RB Salzburg (A)/FC Anif » Manager history". World Football. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Austria » Erste Liga 2009/2010 » 33. Round". World Football. Retrieved 11 June 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "RB Salzburg (A)/FC Anif » Fixtures & Results 2009/2010". World Football. Retrieved 11 June 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "RB Salzburg (A)/FC Anif » Fixtures & Results 2010/2011". World Football. Retrieved 11 June 2016. 
  7. ^ "Niko Kovač". World Football. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  8. ^ Štrbinić, Lovro (21 January 2013). "Štimac objavio popis za Južnu Koreju, braća Kovač preuzimaju mladu reprezentaciju" (in Croatian). Sportnet.hr. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Niko Kovac soll Kroatien noch zur WM führen" (in German). kicker. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  10. ^ "Šuker okrznuo Štimca: 'Ne ponovilo se više nikad!'" (in Croatian). dnevnik.hr. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Niko Kovac: 'Croatia won't park the bus against Brazil in World Cup'". Guardian. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Kroatien entlässt die Kovac-Brüder" (in German). kicker. 9 September 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Eintracht holt Kovac als Veh-Nachfolger" (in German). kicker. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  14. ^ "Hradecky beschenkt Gladbachs Sturmduo" (in German). kicker. 12 March 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  15. ^ "Frankfurts Hoffnung lebt - dank Aigner" (in German). kicker. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  16. ^ "1. Bundesliga - Spieltag / Tabelle". kicker.de (in German). kicker. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  17. ^ "Gacinovic kontert Russ per Flachschuss" (in German). kicker. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  18. ^ "Seferovic hält Frankfurt in der Bundesliga" (in German). kicker. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  19. ^ "Croatia v Australia statistics". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC Sport. 22 June 2006. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  20. ^ "Niko Kovač » Club matches". World Football. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  21. ^ "Eintracht Frankfurt". kicker.de (in German). kicker. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 

External links[edit]