Roman Martin Returns To GNK Dinamo Zagreb

European Sports Desk
Staff Writer, Carleton J. Brown

Southern California Player of the Year Roman Martin in Zagreb, Croatia

Southern California Player of the Year Roman Martin has rejoined GNK Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.

Martin (1.87 m) played for Mario Cvitanović’s U19 team in 2014, and his return to the Plavi this summer once again signals the club’s growing attraction for top-level players outside of Europe.

Martin trains in the Nogometna Škola Dinamo, which is located at the Maksimir training facility in the Croatian capital.  From age of 8 through 19, 200 young players progress through a player development program that is the envy of top clubs across Europe.  The club targets moving two players from every age group into the first-team squad.

Thus far, the results have been excellent with Dinamo Zagreb being ranked 4th by FIFA (CIES) among all professional clubs for producing top professional players. See also “Dinamo’s conveyor belt of talent”

With over 100 games played in Europe for foreign clubs, Martin has developed a reputation at Dinamo as an exciting attacking player with a lot of international experience. When asked about his experience with the Plavi, Martin said, “Dinamo Zagreb is a special club. It is one of those rare places where everyone around you is intensely focus only on soccer.  I’m grateful to Academy Director Marijan Vlak for the opportunity.”

Martin returns to the States later this summer where he will switch coasts to continue his soccer career playing for Wake Forest University in North Carolina.  See other articles on Román at

Roman Martin, a U.S.-based player, try-out with GNK Dinamo Zagreb this week


by Carleton J. Brown

Roman Martin, a U.S.-based soccer player, was called in for a try-out with GNK Dinamo Zagreb.

Martin has played internationally with several different Brazilian clubs, including having played over 70 games in England, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.


Roman Martin, a U.S.-based soccer player, training with GNK Dinamo this week

Martin is the product of the youth development program at the Nomads Soccer Club in San Diego, California. Widely known as a midfield playmaker, Martin is 1.85 meters tall. In addition to his attacking prowess, Martin has a reputation as a formidable defender, bringing a big physical presence to the middle third of the field. Martin, who is 17 years old, is currently training with Dinamo’s U19 team. “It’s a privilege to train here with Dinamo Zagreb,” said Martin. “I understand and respect the long history of player development that has occurred here. No matter where you are from, that’s a big draw for any young footballer.”

The Zagreb-based club is commonly thought of as one of the leading professional clubs in Europe. What is drawing increasing attention, however, is the club’s success with its youth development programs, as well as its global reach. Players like Martin from the U.S. understand what it means to be part of the tradition of excellence at Nogometna Skola Dinamo.

The club is credited with producing a long list of big name stars like Luka Modric (Real Madrid), and recently the 17-year old sensation Alan Halilovic (FC Barcelona), among others.

Other Media Background:

 Brazil Versus Croatia: Match Preview

Croatia-Flag TKS Staff Writer

On the opening day of the 2014 World Cup, the Croatian national team goes into Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo as heavy underdogs. As the host country, Brazil is favored in the opening match at 11-1 odds and will be playing in front of an expected home crowd of 65,000.

But the pressure may very well be on Brazil.  Although only drawing from a country of 4 million people, Croatia will field a talented, veteran-laden squad with nearly 1,000 caps among its players — and a lot to play for.

The Balkans have been hard hit by flooding from cyclone Tamara in recent weeks, and the Croatian players are expected to take the field on Thursday buoyed by a ground swell of emotion about all that their countrymen (and the region in general) are going through.  On top of that, the Croatian side benefits from a rich legacy in football and a strong commitment to player development from its professional teams.  For example, Croatia is one of several successor countries to Yugoslavia, which had a rich history of international success in football.  In fact, it is because of their longstanding success in football that Yugoslavia’s national team (or the Plavi) ironically became known as the “Brazilians of Europe.”  Now, the great soccer traditions of that country are being carried into this year’s World Cup by Croatia and Bosnia–Herzegovina.

Croatia, in particular, has a recognized history in player development.  Its leading professional club, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, is widely regarded as one of the top youth development programs in Europe.   A series of big name stars have come through Dinamo’s youth system, including Luka Modric who plays in La Liga for Real Madrid. Modric will be the triggerman for Croatia in the opening match.  Paired with Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic in Croatia’s midfield, Modric will be key if Croatia is to be successful in denying the Brazilians possession of the ball.

Another product of Dinamo Zagreb’s youth system is Eduardo da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk).  In an interesting backdrop to the game, Eduardo is Brazilian born and made the move to Croatia to join Dinamo’s youth program.  Eduardo took up citizenship in Croatia in 2002 and is expected to see substantial action against Brazil due to the one-game suspension of Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic, who received a red card in Croatia’s last qualifying match against Iceland.

Beyond Dinamo’s representation on Croatia’s side, their current U17 team is heralded as the best in Europe.  Other top professional clubs have taken notice. Most recently, FC Barcelona agreed to a deal to sign 17-year-old Croatia international Alen Halilovic from Dinamo Zagreb for an initial £1.8m.

Dinamo’s reputation in player development extends beyond Europe as well.  It has been reported that 17-year-old, U.S.-based Román Martin has been linked to a move to Dinamo Zagreb this summer.  Martin is a product of San Diego’s Nomads Soccer Club and will be enjoying his fourth stint overseas this summer having formerly toured Europe with two different Brazilian clubs. Other American players have garnered interest at Dinamo as well.  The draw of playing overseas continues to be the opportunity to be exposed to player development programs where there is an established track record of producing results like GNK Dinamo Zagreb.

When the opening match of the 2014 World Cup kicks off on June 12, no one should be surprised by the quality of play on both sides of the ball.  Croatia will field a team with not only depth and veteran experience, but also one of the best midfields in the World Cup. If Croatia can protect against the pace of Brazil on the wings, the opening game of the World Cup presents an intriguing early match up.

Flash News:  Set to take the field for Croatia in the opening match of the 2014 World Cup, Ivan Rakitic is reportedly set to sign with FC Barcelona. Rakitic, who was rumored to have fallen out of talks with his current club Sevilla, is now supposed to sign a long term deal with the Catalan club. Other clubs such as Athletico Madrid and Real Madrid have also expressed interest in the Croatian midfielder.  But FC Barcelona seems to now be front runner for Rakitic’s services as a potential replacement of Cesc Fabregas.

TKS Radio Show – Croatian Coach Zigante talking about 12-year old US soccer player Vincent Borden

March 7th, 2011

In this episode Croatian Soccer Coach and Ziggy Zigante talks about 12-year old soccer player Vincent Borden from New York. Ziggy talks about his playing skills, how he made it to Dinamo Zagreb and his future with the club. A must listen for the US Soccer fans! Dont forget TKS  Soccer Camp June 20-24th, 2011 in San Diego, CA — visit


How to train for kicking with Croatian International Ziggy Zigante

Omaha Beef

TKS Director, John Matich, field goal kicker Omaha Beef

In a exclusive interview with renowned Croatian kicking coach Ziggy Zigante, the Kicking System had an opportunity to ask: How should you train for kicking?

Q: Tell us your background? How did you learn all the necessary techniques, drills, and tactics on training kickers/punters and soccer players?

A: I grew up in the former Yugoslavia in the country that is now called Croatia. After high school I went to The University of Zagreb in Croatia, for physical education, to become a soccer/kicking coach I practiced and played in the top Zagreb teams (Dinamo Zagreb and Lokomotiva) then I went the United States where I played with the Wichita Wings and San Diego Sockers of the MISL. You have to consider that I practiced kicking almost every day since I was a kid, I probably kicked a combined 200-500 balls per practice, so you do math! I used to live in San Diego for a number of years and worked with goalies, field players and kickers performing camps and private lessons. I was the goalie coach for the San Jose Clash and United States National Team coach for brief time. Also I worked in the NCAA with Cornell University as a goalie coach and I currently run a kicking and goalie academy in North Carolina. I also tried out for the San Diego Chargers when I first moved to San Diego.

Q: You have worked with thousands of kickers/soccer/goalies including Kicking Coach John Matich a professional kicker. What are the differences in soccer kicking and football kicking?

A: In soccer you are usually hitting a moving target, in football you are obviously hit a stationary target in field goals. I think a soccer player should have more of an all-around training, which would include cardio-vascular training. While in football you can focus more on strength and power. In soccer, you need to deliver a sharp, precise pass or shoot low on goal. On the other hand, in football you need to get height on the ball to avoid blocks. There are some obvious technical similarities between the two but there are differences in plant football, arm position, etc. But both need to have balance, power, speed and amplitude.

Q: What do you suggest on how to train to kick?

A: I believe kickers need to have a well-rounded program but with an emphasis on explosive power. This can include plyometrics, strength training, and core work. I believe the core is such a vital component to kicking because it connects the whole body together. This includes the lower and oblique muscles. You can’t forget to train the back area as well and your non-dominate leg. You don’t want to become unbalanced, which can lead to bad technique and injury. Yes, kickers should weight train, but it has to be specific. A proper weight-training regime combined with core work would increase your hang time and distance. Flexibility is huge when it comes to football kicking. When I work with kickers we combine the flexibility with explosive power. By integrating both you can achieve greater distances.

Q: Are there any specific exercises or drills you can recommend to football and soccer ‘kickers’?

A: The weight training does not mean you have to workout with bench press, squat, etc. I can’t remember the last time I was in actual gym setting. I prefer body-weight exercises. For example, you can squat down and then jump and touch to top of the soccer goal continuously. I use hurdles, boxes, cones and flagpoles. If you are creative you can avoid buying all kinds of expensive equipment it more important to work on proper technique. One thing I should mention is not to over-train. At least once a week, I recommend doing short explosive water (pool) workouts. This can help in recovery while still being active.