Blazevic regrets Prosinecki omission

Former Croatia coach Miroslav Blazevic has admitted he made a "great mistake" by leaving Robert Prosinecki on the bench for the 1998 World Cup semi-final defeat by France.

Former Croatia coach Miroslav Blazevic has admitted he made a "great mistake" by leaving Robert Prosinecki on the bench for the 1998 World Cup semi-final defeat by France.

Blazevic made one of his most controversial coaching decisions when he left out Prosinecki for the clash with eventual winners France.

He cheekily sent on Prosinecki, who had frequent fall-outs with Blazevic, in the 89th minute - a move considered by many as an attempt to humiliate the player.

But Blazevic has spoken out about the affair, choosing Prosinecki's own newly-launched sports weekly 'Rekord' to set the record straight.

When asked by Prosinecki if Croatia would have won the World Cup if he had let him play from 20 minutes before the end of the match, Blazevic replied: "Now I'm sure of it!

"It was my great mistake. You had some troubles with injuries during the tournament and I wanted only fully prepared players to play," he told Prosinecki, refusing to go into further detail.

"Please, don't ask me any more about that match."

Prosinecki, 33, who has retired from the national team but is still playing in Slovenia for Olimpija Ljubljana, presented the first issue of the weekly publication in Zagreb on Wednesday.

While the incident at France 98 came towards the end of Prosinecki's career, another controversial subject came at the start of it when he was shipped out of Dinamo Zagreb as a 17-year-old when Blazevic was in charge in 1987.

Prosinecki also put Blazevic on the spot again, but the coach was only too willing to clear the air when asked about the subject.

"There was pressure at the time. I knew you were damn good, but there were some coaches - I won't name them - who would come to my office and tell me you were worthless," added Blazevic.

"I want to be clear about our conflict. In a radio show with journalist Ivo Jurisic, who was very fond of you, I happened to say about you 'he won't be a player'. But I knew you would be great. Other things and other people made you go away from Dinamo.

"For example, before a match against Zeljeznicar, when I wanted to let our fans see you, I wanted you to sign the provisional contract. But your father Djuro thought that you were not well treated at Dinamo and was not satisfied with that contract.

"Secretary Ante Pavlovic should be blamed because he told me the contract was not valid as it was not signed in the Federation."

Blazevic dismissed claims that Prosinecki was offloaded because there was no room for Prosinecki and Zvonimir Boban in the same team.

"That's rubbish! It's the greatest shame that you couldn't play together at Dinamo," he said.

"Finally, you and Boban are friends, you played excellent for Croatia, which is logical because great players are always able to play together. Problems arise only when the players are not on the same level."