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

SoCal Player Chooses to Play in Atlantic Coast Conference

Roman Martin, a midfield playmaker from San Diego, recently committed to Wake Forest University.  Martin, who plays for the Nomads U18 Academy in the USSF, has just recently returned from Croatia, where had spent the summer training with the U19 program at GNK Dinamo Zagreb.

When asked about his decision, Martin indicated that a big part of the draw was the brand of soccer that is played at Wake Forest.  “It is an attractive attacking style  — on both sides of the ball – and that fits the way how I have been taught to play,” said Martin.  “Coach Vidovich also has a great track record of producing results and getting the most from his players, and that was important to me”


At 6’1” and 160 lbs, Martin is viewed as a versatile player that can play higher up the field in a playmaking role or in a defensive role in the midfield or along the back 4.  In addition to training at Dinamo Zagreb, Martin has also played extensively in Brazil and Europe.  In the two previous summers, Martin played over 70 games for two different Brazilian clubs in Spain, Portugal, England, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

Martin currently attends the La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego and graduates in June of 2015.

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 Owner John Matich– was quoted in todays San Diego Union-Tribune Article . See bold font in the body of the article

By Craig Malveaux

Roman Martin uses cultural connector to eliminate language barrier in Brazil

Roman Martin practices a shot at La Jolla Country Day

There were times, last summer, when Roman Martin yearned for simplicity.

Immersed in South American culture, footballing for a Brazilian semi-professional soccer club thousands of miles away from his San Diego home, the then 15-year old kid encountered sky-scraping barriers, materializing around him.

“I was sort of handicap, in a sense, socially and mentally,” the rising junior La Jolla Country day Torrey and Nomads soccer club central midfielder said.

“I was clueless. I couldn’t speak or understand Portuguese. And my coaches and most of my teammates couldn’t speak or understand a word of English, which made the transition to their style of play difficult. In America, the style is very organized with set formations, but Brazilians play much differently. It’s all over the place, open and free flowing. Everyone plays multiple positions, so it presented challenges, initially.”

Daunting challenges. Language incompetency prevented questioning, instruction and constructive criticism for both parties. So, adapting meant relying on instincts and a cultural connector — the language of soccer.

“It’s universal,” Martin said. “No matter what language you speak, what country you’re from, the color of your skin, soccer is soccer. You can kick and pass a ball, you can play with a group of teammates.”

It resulted in the game-winning goal in the semifinals of the Barcelona cup and an invitation to return. Next week, Martin ventures back to Brazil for his fourth summer stint. However, this time, Martin embarks on a new journey with a new team — Pequeninos do Jockey — new coaches and new teammates, armed.

“Obrigado,” Martin said.

“It means thank you. That was the first of many words in the Portuguese language that I learned from my tutor at the Brazilian Cultural Center thus far.”

Initially, Martin first received his international opportunity four years ago when scouted during a Brazilian tour with Manchester football club’s nationally-ranked U-14 team. Clube Esportivo Ordin contacted Martin’s parents, which put the wheels in motion.

“Like any parent, you always have concerns,” said Jeff Martin, Roman’s father.

“I viewed it as a tremendous growth opportunity for Roman. At some point in our lives, we have to step forward and take care of ourselves, so developmentally, separate from the soccer, it’s an amazing opportunity to learn from and experience new cultures and languages. Not to mention, Roman is exposed to a different style of play than in the United States.”

Accumulating international experience and an alternative perspective on soccer, according to La Jolla Country Day coach John Matich, has provided Roman with a diverse, multi-dimensional skill set.

In addition, it’s peaked the interest of several NCAA Division I soccer programs, such as in the ACC, the Ivy Leagues and Big East, all clamoring for Martin’s services.

“There are plenty of paths to playing soccer in college and beyond,” Jeff said. “Playing in Brazil, we believe, is an alternative path that will provide Roman with a well-balanced game.”

That’s ultimately what Roman hopes to gain from International play.

“I love soccer, “ Roman said. “This gives me the opportunity to play the game I love while gauging where I am as a player, in my development, against top competition in a different country.”