Bozo Bakota, born on October 5, 1950 and died October 1, 2015, Bozo was a Croatian footballer who throughout his entire professional football career played only for two football clubs, NK Zagreb and SK Sturm Graz.
He played as a midfielder for NK Zagreb and as a forward for SK Sturm Graz during a career spanning from 1971 to 1986.
Bozo started his career with NK Zagreb and played there for the first nine seasons of his career, at a time when the club was struggling to establish themselves as a stable top flight side.
At the beginning of his career, he participated in one of the most notable matches NK Zagreb ever played.
It was a second leg of qualifying match between NK Zagreb and NK Osijek for entering the first league.
The first one in Osijek ended 0–0. Match, known as “Great drama in Maksimir”, took place on 19 July 1973 at Maksimir stadium because of great demand for tickets.
The attendance was 64.138 which broke the stadium record and stands to this day.
Bozo came in the game later on as a substitute for another notable NK Zagreb player, Željko Smolek.
NK Zagreb eventually won the match, after a penalty shoot-out (4–3) which allowed them to play in season 1973–74 with the best clubs in top division.
He stayed with the club after they were relegated from first division at the end of the 1973–74 season, and helped them return to top division the following years.
In season 1974–1975, which was the best season from Bozo in Zagreb jersey as he scored 11 goals in 34 appearances NK Zagreb finished second in Group West of Yugoslav Second League behind Borac from Banja Luka with no promotion to top division.
Next season, NK Zagreb finally achieved promotion to first division by winning the Group West of Yugoslav Second League.
Bozo scored 6 goals in 17 appearances. His second best season with NK Zagreb was 1977–1978 when he scored 10 goals in 28 appearances, playing as their starting line-up midfielder. However, in 1979 they were relegated again.
After staying at the club for one more season, Bozo decided to re-join his former manager Otto Barić at Austrian side SK Sturm Graz in 1980.
He flourished there, forming an attacking partnership with Gernot Jurtin, and helping the club finish as league runners-up in the 1980–1981 season, as well as becoming the league’s top scorer in the 1981–1982 season with 24 goals in 36 appearances.
In European competitions, his greatest achievement was reaching the 1983–1984 UEFA Cup quarter-finals with Sturm, before they were knocked out by England’s Nottingham Forest 1–2 on aggregate.
Bozo retired in 1986, having scored a total of 86 goals in 167 Austrian Bundesliga appearances for Sturm.
His good games at NK Zagreb were also noticed by the national team manager Dražan Jerković who called him up to the national side in 1978.
Bozo debuted and earned his single national cap on 15 November 1978, in a Balkan Cup 4–1 win against Greece held in Skopje (in a match which saw Vahid Halilhodžić scoring a hat-trick).
There are many sad stories in football. Božo Bakota, a former footballer of NK Zagreb, left a very deep mark in the Sturm Graz.
Bozo was a popular football player in that part of Austria. In the center of Graz he held a hugely popular Cafe “7”.
He had a gas stations, but the troubles clung to it. Today he lives in Buzin, a village near Zagreb, where he originated.
Bozo Bakota died on 1 October 2015 at age 64.