Josip, Joe or “Chicky” as he is better known was born in Jablanac Croatia on Aug 1/1937 and immigrated to Canada as an accomplished player at the age of 26. Joe’s old country soccer school stood out as he was never in “panic mode”. He masterfully worked himself out of trouble and brushed his passes with the skills of an artist. Joe moved to Galenka at a young age where he played on first division Nasa Krila’s reserve team with and against household names like Sekularac and Popovic.
His soccer story in Canada started in 1963 when he joined Hamilton Croatia. It was not long before he played key roles of their success and he and his team inscribed their names in some of the most coveted area soccer trophies. He soon became the team captain, and got involved in recruiting many players.
In 1963 his Croatia team won the first and only Tournament of Canadian Croatian Soccer Clubs, which at this point did not include USA, and also the Ontario Inter City SL (OICSL) championship. Those successes were followed by winning their first Spectator Cup in 1964. The following year, 1965, was a banner year for Joe’s Croatia as they again won the OICSL league, was repeat winners of the Spectator Cup, won the Croatian National Soccer Federation of Canada and the USA by beating Chicago 3-2 in the final, and made it to the semifinal of the Ontario Cup. In 1967 Joe and his gang were runners-up in that Croatian international tournament and won it again in 1969.
In the meantime, Hamilton Croatia made a bold step by moving up to the professional National Soccer League (NSL) in 1968 and held their own for a couple of years. It was not long before they were title contenders and finished second, to then powerhouse Toronto Croatia in 1970, and won the NSL playoffs. After slipping to third place in 1971, Joe was asked to be the player coach in 1972, obtaining the same third place result.
In the meantime in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s Joe was also called upon to help out in various North American Croatian soccer hot beds. In the off season he played, and brought other players, to various teams like Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. With his playing days were over, Joe became involved with the Croatian Club executive, becoming president in 1975.