Zagreb, January 16, 2017 – In memory of January 15, a great day in the Croatian history, when we - after almost nine centuries - became an internationally recognized state, we should recall the Croatian athletes-ambassadors who were lobbying around the world for the recognition of Croatia.

Understanding that in the first year of independence Croatia has neither its embassies nor consulates but only a few offices, the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Council decided on September 23, 1991 to establish honorary duties in sports – diplomatic delegates/ambassadors.

Athletes and officials, patriots and sports dignitaries, 59 ambassadors around the world, were the first and only messengers, spokespersons and representatives of the young Croatian state and the Croatian Olympic Committee in countries where they lived or worked.

Here are their names: Slavko Bambir (Handball, Iceland), Otto Barić (Football, Austria), Milivoj Bebić (Water Polo, Italy), Đurđica Bjedov Gabrilo (Swimming, Switzerland), Miroslav Ćiro Blažević (Football, Greece), Zvonimir Boban (Football, Italy), Ozren Bonačić (Water Polo, Italy), Branko Cikatić (Kickboxing, Germany), Željko Čajkovski (Football, Germany), Nurko Čaušević (Volleyball, Italy), Žarko Dolinar (Table Tennis, Switzerland), Veselin Đuho (Water Polo, Italy), Tihomir Filipović (Sports Car Racing, Austria, Italy), Željko Franulović (Tennis, Switzerland), Andrija Fuderer (Chess, Switzerland), Sabrina Goleš (Tennis, USA), Hrvoje Horvat (Handball, Germany), Željko Hrbud (Table Tennis, Germany), Goran Ivanišević (Tennis, Monaco), Tomislav Ivić (Football, France), Vladimir Janković (Volleyball, Italy), Zdravko Ježić (Water Polo, USA), Mirko Jozić (Football, Chile), Kamilo Keretić (Tennis, Germany), Velimir Kljaić (Handball, Germany), Zlatko Kranjčar (Football, Austria), Toni Kukoč (Basketball, Italy), Franjo Kukuljević (Tennis, USA), Deni Lušić (Water Polo, Italy), Željko Matuš (Football, Switzerland), Dragan Matutinović (Water Polo, Spain), Zdravko Miljak (Handball, Germany), Ante Nakić (Water Polo, Greece), Bruno Orešar (Tennis) Tomislav Papak (Boxing, Australia), Tomislav Paškvalin (Water Polo, Italy), Željko Pavličević (Basketball , Greece), Željko Perušić (Football, Switzerland), Dražen Petrović (Basketball, USA), Nikola Pilić (Tennis, Germany), Goran Prpić (Tennis), Ilija Puljević (Handball, Sweden), Dino Rađa (Basketball, Italy), Marijan Režek (Tennis, Australia), Suad Rizvanbegović (Tennis, USA), Zoran Roje (Water Polo, Italy), Petar Skansi (Basketball, Italy), Marijan Stipetić (Swimming, Canada), Mislav Stipetić (Swimming, Canada), Karko Stipanić (Water Polo, Switzerland), Gordan Šnajder (Volleyball, France), Dragutin Šurbek (Table Tennis), Ivo Trumbić (Water Polo, Netherlands), Velimir Valenta (Rowing, Switzerland), Stojko Vranković (Basketball, USA), Velimir Zajec (Football, Greece ), Goran Žuvela (Judo, Australia), Marko Winkler (Tennis, USA), Tomislav Wurth (Tennis, Germany). (COC/editorial board)