Stories from the other side – Mladen Rudonja: Matevž Vidovšek? From the coach with Air Max sneakers and hands in his pockets to “this kid is amazing”
Written by: Mladen Rudonja. Photo: Sportida. Graphics: WPM.
Football is anything but just live broadcasts, dry match reports, transfer rumors, timeless clichés from the mouths of the main actors. What the public sees is just one side of football; it’s interesting and often exciting. But there is also the side that is hidden from the eyes of ordinary mortals. On the other side, things happen that you wouldn’t think of. There are complications, adventures, anecdotes, incredible stories, bitter disappointments, failed plans, and much more. These are the stories from the other side. Their stories. Stories of the main actors.
As the first guest writer of stories from the other side on the Planetnogomet.si portal, Mladen Rudonja joined. The legendary native of Koper, who scored a goal for the World Cup and later left his mark on Olimpija in various ways, touched on Matevž Vidovšek in his second story from the other side. Among other things, he also answered a question that will never actually get an answer: “Would Robert Prosinečki have been the champion with Olimpija if he had replaced Ivana Banić with Matevž Vidovšek earlier?” Mladen Rudonja once again told an unheard story. A story from the other side.
Photo: Vid Ponikvar / Sportida
Even today, there are still some who tug at my sleeve and ask why Matevž Vidovšek stepped into the goal of Olimpija only in the last round of the 2021/22 season. Everyone is convinced that Olimpija would have been the champion then if Vidovšek had been given a chance earlier. But would it really have been? My answer is simple: I believed in Boban Bajković. Absolutely believed. Bajko always repeated like a broken record: “All of you want to see Matevž in goal. Right now. But when we put him in goal, he has to be ready. If we put him in too soon, he’ll burn out. And fail. If we put him in too soon, we’ll lose him.“
Far from anyone pushing Ivan Banić. Long before the end of the season, it was known that he would return to Croatia. Anyway, that season was not meant for us. Given everything that was happening, we would have a hard time being first. So we were already looking to the future and planning for the next season. We were building a team for the highest level (which, truth be told, later became the national champion). From the goalkeeper onwards. Long before the end of that season, it was clear that Matevž would be the first goalkeeper in the next one. In any case. But at the same time, we knew that he had to step into the goal when he is 100%. We waited for Bajković to say now. And when he said now, Matevž went in goal. We all know what happened next. But confidence is not gained overnight. And that was his biggest problem.
Photo: Nik Moder / Sportida
Interestingly, Matevž Vidovšek probably wouldn’t have played for Olimpija if it weren’t for his agent. He was, if I may say so, loyal to the club he had worked with before. When we were looking for a new backup goalkeeper, he recommended Matevž to us. The latter was in an ungrateful position. As a young player, he went to Italy, where he failed to establish himself, didn’t get playing time, but still had compensation. The agent went along with us in this regard, arranged certain things, and Vidovšek ended up with us. We immediately saw that he had tremendous physique. It was clear that there was potential, but at the same time, it was also clear that we would have to work with him.
As the goalkeeper coach at Olimpija, he initially worked with him, and he is still in the club. Unfortunately, he did not recognize the talent that Vidovšek possesses. He kept saying all the time that he was weak with his foot, that a lot of work needed to be done with him, that we needed a lot of time, that he didn’t know if he could make him a goalkeeper for Olimpija. When we came to the point of deciding whether to extend the contract with Matevž or not, the goalkeeper coach, Goran Boromisa, made it clear: he’s not for Olimpija. That he does not have enough quality to defend Olimpija’s goal.Photo: Matic Klanšek Velej / Sportida
But then things changed drastically. Dino Skender left, but Igor Barišić asked if Goran Boromisa could stay in the club. We found him a role as a scout… Why not? He can be a scout, but certainly not continue as a goalkeeper coach. Simply put: he went to training in Air Maxes. He stood on the field and told the goalkeepers what to do. It doesn’t work that way. How can a goalkeeper progress and make a leap forward if he is led by a coach with his hands in his pockets?
Then Robert Prosinečki became the coach, and with him came Boban Bajković. After the first training session, I asked him what he thought of that tall goalkeeper. About Matevž. Like a shot, he said that he is a goalkeeper with incredible potential. That he is a goalkeeper who just needs someone to fill him with confidence. “Then he will be a national team player,” I still remember the words of Boban Bajković to this day. He was right.
But the journey was neither short nor easy. Anyone who has ever been to an Olimpija training session could see for themselves how dedicated Bajko was to the “Vidovšek project.” He praised him, lifted him up, threw himself on the field with him, corrected him, told him what to do, but above all, he strengthened his confidence. And after two, three months, things started to happen: no one could score a goal against him in training. Then we all know what happened. Celje came, debut came, a new season came, and the national team also came. For a goalkeeper that Goran Boromisa, the goalkeeper coach, wrote off. Fortunately, Boban Bajković thought differently. The contract that Matevž got after the debut in Celje was only the logical consequence of it all.Photo: Grega Valančič / Sportida
Matevž Vidovšek clearly stated in one of his first interviews who helped him the most to become what he is. It’s clear to me why he doesn’t want to boast about it anymore today. Because this is not right for the current management. Of course, they will never admit it, but that’s how it is. Ask Matevž… The truth is what it is. But I understand him not wanting to have problems with the current leadership.
Although we did not win the championship title in 2022, we at least got Matevž Vidovšek. But we didn’t get him just like that. We got him with the hard work of people who, despite everything, left their mark in Ljubljana. I am truly sorry that Matevž got injured at the end of last year. But despite everything, I am convinced that he has an exceptional future ahead of him. If I’m honest, I see him in one of the top five European leagues. Or as Boban Bajković would say: “This kid is awesome.“ Photo: Nik Moder / Sportida
This text was automatically translated using AI.