TORONTO CROATIA - A GREAT CROATIAN (AND CANADIAN) STORY.... Premiere showing of documentary Jan 17 (from CSL website)
TORONTO CROATIA - A GREAT CROATIAN (AND CANADIAN) STORY.... Premiere showing of documentary Jan 17 When Joe Pavicic became president of Toronto Croatia of the Canadian Soccer League in 2006, he did so with the knowledge that it would be necessary to uphold the reputation of a club with a proud and storied history after having celebrated 50 years in Canadian professional soccer. The club was and continues to be high profile by virtue of an impressive chronology of championship victories in Canada and in recent years, internationally. The first sign of success came with consecutive title wins as a member of the National Soccer League during the years 1970 – 73 and this was followed by the memorable North American Championship victory as Toronto Metros-Croatia in 1976. The Canadian International Soccer League (Puma League) titles followed in 1995 and 1996, then multiple wins in the Croatian National Soccer Federation of Canada and the United States tournament, to be followed by an unbeaten record in the more recent Croatian World Club Championship. Toronto Croatia and Championships have become synonymous in Canadian soccer and the Mississauga-based club is now firmly entrenched in Canadian soccer history, to be shown in a documentary film produced by Pavicic with its premiere screening on January 17. “It is true we have won a lot of trophies in the Canadian Soccer League over the years and have a great record overseas, but the one I am most proud of is the North American title as Metros-Croatia in ’76. I recognize it for two reasons, firstly it was really something to win the North American Championship in the 70s, but most importantly it demonstrated how two groups from different parts of the world involved in this great game can come together to achieve a high level of success,” said Pavicic. A lot of great players have worn the distinctive Croatia mark on the jersey, with Portuguese legend, the late Eusebio, top scorer in the 1966 World Cup, topping the list. While playing two seasons for Toronto Croatia in 1975/76, Eusebio, who is often rated with Pele and Diego Maradona in world soccer, scored 18 goals in 25 games. Others who played for Toronto Metros-Croatia to became prominent in the North American Soccer League were Bob Iarusci, Carmen Marcantonio, Bruno Pilas, Ivair Ferreira, Damir Sutevski, Ted Polak, Mladen Cukon, Zeljko Bilecki and Peter Roe, to name just a few. Several players have crossed the Atlantic from Europe to play for Toronto Croatia, including Ivan Simic (from Gosk Jug Dubrovnik), Goran Pavlic (Iskra Bugojono), Josip Lukacevic (Osijek), Robert Rupcic (Rijeka) and Mate Stanic (Vinkovci) and in recent times a number of local players who have excelled for the club include Domagoj Sain, George Azcurra, Peter Curic, Leo Laurito, Edin Kalic, Leo Marasovic, Ivan Grnja, Marijan Bradvic, Drago Vabec, Ivan Lukacevic, Tom Granic, Josip Keran, Tihomir Maletic and Velimir Crljen. Crljen has also made his mark as player-coach and is currently head coach.
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