The critical moment of my childhood was my dad taking me to the first football match when I was 5 years old. It was on that day when I became fascinated with controlling the ball and this event shaped the rest of my life.
A year later I joined the club NK Varteks. The great amount of work I was doing on ball control was paying off, as technical ability became the main strength of my game. At the same time from the moment I started to play football I loved the feeling of scoring a goal and, in order to score as many as possible, I also began to practice kicking at a very young age. It became my real passion, however, after I saw some of the free kicks scored by players like David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho.
Inspired by these players I was imitating their styles in my practice and by combining them I started to develop my own. Although in my youth career I scored many goals in open play using both the inside of my foot and laces, it was my ability from dead-ball situations – both direct free kicks and indirect set pieces – which through persistent practice and repetition became my key asset, helping me become a youth national team player for Croatia and reach professional level.
However, the transition to professional football is often difficult and so was mine. The goalkeepers were now taller and faster and the number of my assists and goals decreased. I began to realise that the ball striking techniques I worked on for many hours weren’t so effective any more. This realisation prompted me to turn towards other models, and the most influential model in that period was Cristiano Ronaldo who was scoring some spectacular free kicks and open play goals. I spent a lot of time watching his videos and trying to copy his technique, but I was unable to make any real progress.
It was at that time that my agent told me about Bartek and his work. He showed me a few videos of Bartek’s clients hitting topspin free kicks and I was amazed by the difference his training could make. Soon we started to work remotely, with Bartek analysing my strikes and providing corrections and explanations accompanied by videos of his models. Just by following his instructions my strikes got better than ever before after only a few weeks of practice. I was delighted, because I knew that the skills we worked on would help me stand out from other players.
This delight lasted only for a very short time, however, as I sustained a serious abdominal wall injury which required immediate surgery. Following the surgery things got even more complicated as I was diagnosed with chronic inflammation of the pubic area. After a year of pain I decided to retire from football at the age of 20.
After losing the battle with injury I started to pursue a career in coaching and in addition to obtaining coaching qualifications I completed a BSc degree in Sports Management at University College of Northern Denmark. Although I was enjoying my new work, Bartek’s training method impressed me and fascinated me to such a degree that my biggest wish was to become a kicking specialist.
My unwavering interest in his training and desire to do it convinced Bartek that we could work together and in February 2019, 5 years after our first consultation when I was still a player, we started our cooperation. Bartek gave me a comprehensive education in the technical, physical and mental aspect of his coaching method and soon after I began putting the newly acquired knowledge into practice, as opportunities arose for me to do the ball striking work with professional players in Croatia. I also restarted my own training and thanks to now possessing an in-depth understanding of 10 the technical and physical aspects of ball striking I have reached a level higher than ever before and have been able to practice without any pain despite my chronic injury problems.
A combination of theoretical and practical knowledge of ball striking, experience in the professional game and university education gave me the skills to help committed players achieve excellence in the area of ball striking and do the work that I have been passionate about ever since I undertook it myself as a player. Seeing the progress that it helps players make and the impact it can have on their career makes it not only fascinating and enjoyable, but also thoroughly rewarding.