Marija Matuzić (photo: goal.com).
Marija Matuzić (photo: goal.com).

Marija Matuzić

When I'm 64

Beginnings

Marija Matuzić, nicknamed ‘Maca Maradona,’ is still actively playing football as a midfielder in Croatia, at the age of 64. She played professionally until 2010 and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

Matuzić was born in Duga Resa, a Croatian city based then in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, as the youngest of six siblings. Marija played handball as a child before switching to football at the age of 12. She briefly played for Loto Zagreb and ŽNK Zagreb before joining ŽNK Dinamo-Maksimir, where she played from 1978 to 2010, an astonishing 32-year career with more than 1500 goals.

During her career, she represented the Yugoslav national women’s team and later served as the Croatian national team captain. Her last match for the national team was in a European qualifier in 2000. Even at the age of 49, Matuzić was regularly honoured as the player of the match. 

International success

She has successfully played against clubs and national teams from all over Europe that had much bigger resources. Coming from a rural background where one had to grow up with little, Matuzić learned to be resourceful and use her wit and endless energy to compete against teams from much richer countries.

She was particularly respected in Italy, earning her nickname ‘Maca Maradona’ (‘Cat Maradona’) after the crowd witnessed her skills with the ball. Diego Maradona is her all-time favourite player, and she managed to obtain his signed shirt when he attended a Davis Cup tennis match in Zagreb. Despite regularly receiving offers from Austria, Germany, France, Spain and many other countries, she never wanted to leave Zagreb, which already seemed like a metropolis to her compared to her rural environment. She loved her home ground and family too much to leave.

Still pushing forward 

“Since 1986, Matuzić has sporadically served as a football coach alongside her playing career, never looking back. As she recently stated in an interview, she plans to continue playing football twice a week as long as she has the endurance to run over 10km twice weekly, typically faster than most of her younger colleagues and players, both men and women. She has never played football for the money, but for the joy of the game and camaraderie in sport.” In 2026 she can break the record of being the oldest active football player in the world. 

Thinking points

Educators could use this life story with young people to discuss questions like:

  • What does the story of Marija Matuzić tell you about becoming a successful player? 
  • How has women’s football developed throughout the long career of Marija Matuzić? 
  • Due to the course of European History, Marija represented multiple national teams during her career. How can the history of Yugoslavian football and history be told through the life and career of Marija Matuzić? How are the two connected and how should this double representation have felt for football players? 

Find out more

If you would like to know more about the life of Marija Matuzić you can read about her additional individual achievements on Wikipedia and on Croatia Week.

Photo Gallery

She has never played football for the money but for the joy of the game and camaraderie in sport.

Life Story 135

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