ZAGREB, April 19, 2017 - There are not many sports journalists who have left their mark in history like Tomislav Židak. He was a master of the feeling for the moment. I had known him for a long time, but I really got to know him well one joyful night during the Olympic Games in Sydney. I learned then that great people and great journalists are never ashamed to ask about anything. He would not just ask, though, he would drain information from you, but he did it gently, painlessly, providing the person he was working on with a sense of importance and value, as well.
He was a member of the Croatian Sports Journalists Association and AIPS. Not since the beginning, though; he had typically resisted any membership or affiliation to an association until the moment he found out that, with our membership card, he could go to the football matches all over Europe. He has been a member since then and he has constantly been nominated for awards and he has also received a few; time ran out on him and he couldn't get the last one, awarded to him this year.
Žile, as we called him, would sometimes make a mountain out of a molehill, but the other way round, too. His similes and adjectives became a treasure hunt in Croatian sports journalism. You would imitate him, and yet you were not sure that it sounded right. It didn't and it never will. He coloured the beauty of all sports in his own, special, light colours, which nobody will be able to mix for a long time.
We all know that he followed FC Dinamo Zagreb persistently like hound dogs follow a fox. He often treated the people in Dinamo that way - in a hunting and inquisitory manner. But lovingly, too. Only he knew how to do it. He even wrote those tenacious chronicles of his favourite club and football, mixing love, satisfaction or dissatisfaction, loyalty and journalistic objectivity in a ratio, which is difficult to explain. However, recalling these columns, we seem to forget that these are also chronicles of our years, our problems, our thrills, of ourselves.
True, he wrote mostly about Dinamo and football, but I was delighted when he wrote about something else. And he had to at the Olympic Games; that, too, was fluent and - accurate! This was one of Žile's strengths. Accurate information - this is how he showed that he respected his each and every reader.
Athletes sometimes feared him, but they also liked him. They would come to interviews with him, knowing that the truth was the only criterion that Žile respected. Out of the blue, he recently brought Sandra Perković a present from Germany - the discus that had flown the farthest ever in the history of athletics. And he had been preparing himself for this interview with the discus world record holder for months, inquiring, studying.... I am not sure that he even didn't try to hurl that discus somewhere out inn a meadow, just to see what it felt like...
He was the only journalist who would sometimes even express different viewpoints in the same issue of the newspaper he was working for and - remain Židak! Strong, steadfast, omnipresent and great. Thank you, Žile, for having had my number in your mobile phone, too, for having enjoyed sport and for having let me or all of us who often sat down and had a drink with you feel that sport is the best thing that can happen to each sports journalist.
Goodbye Žile. We will miss you a lot...
Born: 1953, in Vugrovac, Croatia