Josko Gvardiol Biography – Childhood, Parents, Family [2024]

This memoir offers a comprehensive insight into Josko Gvardiol’s Biography, covering details of his formative years, family background – including details about his mother, Sanja Gvardiol, father, Tihomir Gvardiol, siblings Franka and Lorena, and other family members like his uncle, Damir Kalapač, and grandfather, Zvonimir.

Furthermore, this biography sheds light on Gvardiol’s cultural roots, religious beliefs, and ethnicity.

We’ll also unveil the nuances of the Croatian footballer’s off-field life, financial standing, and the breakdown of his earnings at RB Leipzig.

In essence, we aim to provide a detailed account of Josko Gvardiol’s journey.

Explore the narrative of the unassuming fisherman’s son who skyrocketed to become Croatia’s highly sought-after football sensation. It’s intriguing to think that had it not been for football, Gvardiol might have joined his father in the fishing trade.

It’s fascinating to note that when Luka Modrić began his journey with the Croatian team in 2006, a young Gvardiol, merely four years old, was still learning to ride a bicycle. Fast forward to today, this once modest child shares the field with legendary Modrić and garners attention from elite European clubs.

A poignant memory from his childhood is when, at six, Gvardiol sketched his dream Dinamo Zagreb Jersey. Remarkably, a mere 12 years later, he realized this dream, securing four trophies with the team by the tender age of 19.


Gvardiol’s biography offers readers a panoramic view of his life, starting with significant milestones from his childhood, tracing his early footballing steps with clubs like Trešnjevka and Dinamo, and culminating in his meteoric rise in the sport.

This account aims to captivate readers, delving deep into the life of young Josko.

From his nascent days to his rise to prominence with RB Leipzig, Gvardiol’s journey has been nothing short of inspirational.

Being a pivotal player for the Croatian national team at just 19 garners significant attention. With Guardiola, fans don’t just observe; they’re intrigued by the story behind his success. A tale of how he evolved into the beacon of hope for Croatian football.

In our quest for stories on European football talents (the likes of Antonio Silva, Destiny Udogie, etc.), we identified a knowledge void.

The reality remains: many enthusiasts have yet to discover the captivating narrative of Josko Gvardiol’s life. Let’s embark on this riveting journey.

Josko Gvardiol’s Early Years:

Dubbed ‘Pep Guardiola‘ due to the striking resemblance of his surname to that of the acclaimed Manchester City manager, Joško Gvardiol’s journey began in Zagreb, Croatia. Born on January 23, 2002, to parents Sanja Gvardiol and Tihomir Gvardiol, young Josko was one of three siblings in the Gvardiol household.

A Brief on Josko’s Father: Tihomir Gvardiol, a well-known fisherman, may not have showered his son with worldly luxuries, but he instilled in him a deep sense of respect and diligence.

Life in Zagreb:

Growing up, the Gvardiol family resided in the Srednjaki neighbourhood of Zagreb, specifically in a high-rise, third from the bustling Zagrebačka Avenue. The family of five occupied an apartment on the fifth floor.

Originating from Srednjak, a quaint settlement in Zagreb County, Josko shared his early years with two older sisters, Franka and Lorena, who contributed significantly to his childhood memories.

On his Siblings: Lorena Gvardiol, a year older than Josko, is employed at the fashion firm Mona Fashion in Zagreb. Besides her day job, she pursues modelling and has a penchant for athletics. Meanwhile, the eldest, Franka Gvardiol, is a passionate sports enthusiast. At 31, she showcases her prowess in handball and beach volleyball, representing the ŽRK Udarnik club in Velika Gorica, Croatia’s bustling metropolis.

Embarking on a Football Journey:

Josko’s football aspirations took root at the tender age of six. Guided by his father, he joined Trešnjevka, their local neighbourhood football club. Initially, challenges arose due to the absence of peers in his age group, leading young Gvardiol to play alongside older boys. However, his prodigious talent shone through, as he consistently outperformed his seniors, showcasing skills often beyond his years.

Drawing inspiration from football legends like Lionel Messi, Josko’s abilities were hard to overlook. Within just a year, he caught the attention of numerous scouts, marking the onset of his blossoming football career.

Josko Gvardiol’s Family History:

Starting with his lineage, Josko’s father, Tihomir, had a brief brush with football. As an amateur, he played for GOŠK in his birthplace, Novigrad. Later, he continued his football journey with Trešnjevka, where he eventually hung up his boots.

Even as he delved into the fishing trade, Tihomir harboured aspirations for his son to achieve the football dreams that eluded him. It was this vision that led him to introduce a young Josko to Trešnjevka, the same club where he once played.

Occupations of Josko Gvardiol’s Parents:

Josko hails from a grounded and humble family background. In their community, Josko is fondly known as the modest offspring of a Novigrad fisherman. Under Tihomir’s leadership, the Gvardiol family has carved a niche in the fishing trade.

Tihomir is a hands-on fisherman, often selling his catch at Dolac, Zagreb’s central farmers’ market. Engaged actively in the Ivčić fishing trade, Tihomir, along with fellow fishermen, sets out in the evenings, only to hand over the day’s catch to drivers who then transport it to the market. After a hard day’s work, Tihomir returns home, rests, and prepares for another day of toil.

By dawn, he’s up, reaching the Dolac market to set up his stall, ensuring the fresh catch is sold by day’s end. This daily cycle is a testament to his dedication and work ethic.

While Tihomir is deeply involved in the business, Josko’s mother, Sanja, was employed at a prominent wholesale firm in Zagreb. As a boy, whenever his football commitments permitted, Josko would accompany his father on fishing trips, stating that he might have pursued fishing had football not beckoned.

Tracing Josko Gvardiol’s Roots:

Though Josko identifies as Croatian and was born in Zagreb, his family’s roots extend beyond the capital city. His father, Tihomir, hails from Novigrad near Zadar. Josko cherishes his time spent with his paternal grandparents during the summer months in Novigrad.

Conversely, Sanja, Josko’s mother, originates from Srednjak, a village in the Jastrebarsko region of Zagreb County, Croatia.

The map highlights Novigrad, the paternal home, and Srednjak, Sanja’s hometown, illustrating the diverse origins of Josko Gvardiol’s family.

Josko Gvardiol’s Heritage:

Josko Gvardiol, much like his Croatian contemporaries such as Marcelo Brozovic and Andrej Kramaric, is part of the South Slavic ethnic lineage. Delving into his ancestry, one can trace back his roots to regions spanning Southeast Europe, Central Europe, and the Mediterranean. The rich history of the South Slavic ethnic group he is associated with extends as far back as the 7th Century.

Josko Gvardiol’s Academic Journey:

Recognizing the importance of education, Josko’s parents, Sanja and Tihomir, ensured their children received a proper schooling foundation. Josko’s academic journey began at the Srednjaci Kindergarten and later led him to the Josip Račić Elementary School, both located in his birthplace of Zagreb.

Upon completing his elementary education, he transitioned to the Road Traffic School situated near Maksimir in Zagreb. Although his burgeoning football career took precedence, Josko hasn’t ruled out furthering his education in the future.

Josko Gvardiol’s Football Genesis:

From a young age, Josko would commute to his training sessions and matches by tram, an experience that fostered a sense of responsibility and maturity, especially since he often played with older teammates.

During his tenure with the Trešnjevka Academy, two prominent clubs, Lokomotiva and Zagreb, expressed interest in the budding talent. Lokomotiva, being the initial suitor, seemed poised to secure the youngster. However, a last-minute proposal from Dinamo Zagreb swayed Josko and his family.

It was at Trešnjevka that Miroslav Davidović, the youth coach for Dinamo, recognized Josko’s innate talent. Eager to keep him from Lokomotiva’s grasp, Davidović swiftly made a move, ensuring Josko’s transfer to Dinamo Zagreb.

Adapting at Dinamo Zagreb:

Upon joining Dinamo Zagreb in 2010, the young Joško was warmly welcomed and received ample support in acclimating to his new environment.

Balancing his football aspirations with his studies at Josip Račić Primary School, a close associate of Joško’s father crafted a sketch, essentially a roadmap, to help the young prodigy navigate through his commitments seamlessly.

Those who knew him during these initial stages often spoke of a cheerful and modest youngster who radiated immense promise from the outset.

Despite the strong inclination towards football, Joško contemplated ceasing his formal education, firmly believing in his potential on the pitch. Determined to outshine, he didn’t just restrict himself to team training; he also invested five additional hours with a personal coach.

Joško’s relentless passion for the game occasionally clashed with his parents’ aspirations for him. They had hoped he would continue with his academic pursuits, possibly transitioning into football coaching. However, Joško had set his heart on playing.

Joško Gvardiol’s Rise to Prominence:

By the age of 15, whispers of Joško’s prodigious talent resonated beyond Croatia, reaching the ears of European football elites. Inter Milan, recognizing his potential, extended an offer.

However, heeding advice from his family and counsellors, Joško opted for a more gradual ascent in his career, rejecting Inter’s advances in favour of nurturing his talent at Dinamo Zagreb.

Joško’s dedication and unwavering commitment were evident. He not only consistently trained with the first team but was often the last player on the pitch, perfecting his craft. His peers and mentors lauded him for his perseverance and hard work.

With time, Joško’s admiration shifted from the wizardry of Lionel Messi to the defensive masterclass of Virgil van Dijk. As he matured in his role, he was no longer looking to emulate the prowess of attacking maestros but was drawn to the resilience and tactical genius of world-class defenders, hoping to cement his place among them.

Josko Gvardiol’s Ascent to Stardom:

Upon demonstrating his exceptional skills, Gvardiol was quickly integrated into Dinamo Zagreb’s primary lineup, having only participated in a handful of games with the club’s secondary squad. His rapid progression made him an invaluable asset to the team.

Following the legacy of renowned players such as Igor Bišćan, Darij Šimić, Vedran Ćorluka, Tino Jedvaj, and Dejan Lovren, Gvardiol was hailed as one of the most promising defenders to emerge from Dinamo Zagreb’s academy.

Similar to Edmond Tapsoba, Gvardiol’s on-field prowess captivated numerous scouts, marking him as a prominent target. Such was his impact that he soon became the most coveted young defender on the European football circuit.

By the time he reached 18, the prodigious talent had already started amassing silverware with Dinamo Zagreb, including two Prva HNL titles, a Croatian Cup, and a Croatian Super Cup.

Transition to RB Leipzig:

Upon making his Bundesliga bow with RB Leipzig in a resounding 4–0 triumph against VfB Stuttgart, Gvardiol showcased that he was ready to shine at this new stage. He established a formidable alliance with teammates Angeliño, Lukas Klostermann, Tyler Adams, and Ilaix Moriba, fortifying the team’s defence and midfield.

Guided by coach Jesse Marsch, the team, boasting talents like Christopher Nkunku, André Silva, and Dominik Szoboszlai, secured numerous victories, culminating in the DFB-Pokal win for the 2021/2022 season.

Evolving Transfer Talks:

By age 20, Gvardiol’s name resonated across the football world as one of the most desirable defensive talents. Those who had recently discovered him, including his coach Jesse Marsch, were astonished by the potential he displayed.

By 2022, Gvardiol’s valuation surpassed many Croatian greats of the past. With a market value of €60m at 20, he overshadowed the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic, and Ivan Perisic during their respective early years.

Rumours had it that Premier League titans Chelsea and Manchester City, managed by Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola, respectively, were showing interest in the Croatian sensation. In the end, Man City won the race for Josko’s signature (a £77.6m transfer deal). Josko has so far bonded with his new teammates, the likes of Erling Haaland, Manuel Akanji, Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne, etc.

As of our last update on Gvardiol’s journey, he had not only solidified his place in the Croatian national team but also set a new record. Aged just over 19 years, he outpaced Mateo Kovačić to become the youngest Croatian player to represent his country in a major competition. And as they say, the rest is history.

Josko Gvardiol’s Romantic Ventures:

Given his early accolades and prominence, many would consider Josko Gvardiol a burgeoning soccer star. With such success, it’s often believed that behind every accomplished Croatian player, there’s a charming companion or partner. So, it’s natural to wonder:

Is there a special someone in Josko Gvardiol’s life?

As of the last update in 2022, Gvardiol seems to have opted for privacy when it comes to his romantic pursuits. He hasn’t publicly disclosed any relationship or hinted at having a significant other. Thus, we’ll have to wait to find out who might eventually become Mrs. Gvardiol.

Getting to Know Josko Gvardiol Off the Field:

Many fans, intrigued by his on-field prowess, are eager to understand his off-field persona. They often ask: What kind of person is Josko Gvardiol?

In the early days of his professional journey, Josko preferred a low-key lifestyle. Despite being associated with one of Croatia’s premier clubs and earning a substantial income, he chose a humble dwelling. Gvardiol resided in a modest apartment, a testament to his grounded nature.

In that apartment, a couple of jerseys hang prominently. One is from Filip Krovinović of Benfica, gifted to him via his agent Marjan Šišić. The other is from Ryan Bertrand, a player Gvardiol respects, whose representative once approached the Croatian sensation.

Josko Gvardiol’s Fitness Regime:

Josko is committed to maintaining peak physical condition. He frequents the gym almost daily, dedicating six days a week to his fitness. His routine is balanced, with weightlifting sessions complemented by cardio workouts. This rigorous regime underscores Gvardiol’s dedication and provides a glimpse into the secret behind the defender’s stamina and strength on the field.

Josko Gvardiol’s Way of Life:

As he approached his next major transfer, rumours of vast sums swirled around him. Yet, Josko remains unfazed by such talk, staying grounded amidst the speculation.

While Leipzig might be famous for its historic charm, for Gvardiol, it was a place of camaraderie. Among his circle were Dani Olmo and his brother, Carlos. The duo introduced Gvardiol to some of Leipzig’s finest eateries, treating him to the city’s culinary delights.

A Passion for Racing:

Several footballers have varied interests outside of the pitch. For Josko Gvardiol, it’s the exhilarating world of Formula 1. He shares this passion with other players like Matt Doherty, especially their admiration for two-time Formula One World Champion Max Verstappen.

In 2022, Gvardiol, along with teammates Alexander Sørloth, Dani Olmo, and Yussuf Poulsen, secured spots at the Austrian Grand Prix. They didn’t miss the chance to capture memories, posing near Verstappen’s garage and mingling with the racing team’s crew.

Behind the Wheel:

While Gvardiol may be discreet about his personal belongings, his enthusiasm for Formula 1 hints at a potential interest in cars. Although he hasn’t flaunted any luxurious vehicles on social media, he’s certainly of age to drive. It’s only a matter of time before the world sees what the Croatian chooses for his personal ride.

The Backbone: Gvardiol’s Family:

Josko’s formidable presence on the field and his unwavering dedication can be traced back to the values instilled in him by his family. Let’s delve deeper into the lives of the pillars supporting this talented Croatian footballer.

Josko Gvardiol’s Father:

Tihomir, Josko’s father, once dreamed of a new house away from the city’s chaos. As soon as Josko made his move to RB Leipzig, he made sure to realize that dream for his dad. Nestled in the tranquil Rakitje, a village on the outskirts of Zagreb, Josko gifted his parents a peaceful residence by the lake.

Tihomir’s love for fishing never diminished, even with the wealth and fame his son brought home. In fact, during summer breaks, Josko would often join him, reflecting the deep bond they shared. The athlete credits much of his success and determination to his father’s teachings and vision.

Josko Gvardiol’s Mother:

Sanja, Josko’s mother, has always been a pillar of support in his life. No longer bound to her old job at a wholesale company, she enjoys the comfort provided by her son’s success. Yet, Sanja constantly reminds Josko of the importance of education, hoping he will continue his academic pursuits in the future. To her, Josko is a spirited, playful, yet disciplined individual.

Josko Gvardiol’s Sisters:

Josko’s sisters, Franka and Lorena, have gradually become acquainted with the intricacies of the football industry. Assisting their family and working closely with Marjan Šišić, Josko’s agent since his early teens, they’ve gained insights into the world of sports management. Both sisters are active in sports and, like Josko, have a fondness for their father’s hometown, Novigrad. There’s a six-year age difference between them, with Franka being the elder sibling.

Josko Gvardiol’s Grandparents:

From what’s gathered, Josko’s paternal grandparents reside in Novigrad, a picturesque town in Istria County, western Croatia. The bond Josko shares with them is evident in his frequent visits, reinforcing the close-knit ties of the Gvardiol family.

Josko Gvardiol’s Uncle:

Damir Kalapač, a Zadar native situated on Croatia’s scenic Dalmatian coast, stands out in the family lineage as Josko Gvardiol’s uncle. Once donning the Croatian national team jersey, even if just for a single game, Kalapač beams with pride at every outstanding performance of his “little nephew” in the Bundesliga and with the Croatian national squad. Kalapač harbours high aspirations for Josko, hoping he’d one day play for a club even grander than Leipzig.

Lesser-Known Facts:

Here are some intriguing tidbits about the Croatian Defender that might have eluded most:

His Triple Dream:

From his early days, Josko harboured three dreams. The inaugural dream was to grace the field for Dinamo Zagreb, his family’s beloved club – a dream he’s since realized. His second aspiration was to represent his nation, a goal he achieved in 2021.

The final dream on his list? To showcase his skills in the revered English Premier League. With football giants Chelsea and Manchester City reportedly vying for his signature, this dream might soon be a reality.

Breaking Down Josko Gvardiol’s Earnings:

With his Leipzig contract, Josko pockets approximately €1,121,699 annually. Converted to Croatian kuna, that’s an impressive 8,448,905 kn.

A Comparative Glance at his Earnings:

In the region from where the Gvardiol family hails, an average individual earns close to 91,200 Kuna each year. To grasp the magnitude of Josko’s earnings, the average person would need nearly 92 years to amass 8,448,905 Kuna, which Josko rakes in annually with RB Leipzig.

Josko Gvardiol’s FIFA Stats:

By 2023, Gvardiol, alongside footballers like Destiny Udogie and Ian Maatsen, has etched their names among fast-rising left-backs. What makes Josko even special is the fact that his main playing position is the centre-back. Indeed, he is as versatile as Manuel Akanji. At just 20, Gvardiol boasts well-rounded skills, as evidenced by his FIFA stats.

What is Josko Gvardiol’s Religious stand?

While Gvardiol is not vocal about his religious beliefs, evidence suggests that he grew up in a Christian environment. He stands alongside approximately 86.3% of Croatians who embrace and practice Catholicism.


Josko Gvardiol is affectionately dubbed ‘Pep’ or ‘Pep Guardiola’, a playful nod to the resemblance of his surname with the famed manager of Manchester City. He entered the world on January 23, 2002, the pride and joy of his parents, Sanja and Tihomir Gvardiol.

He has the company of two sisters in his family, namely Franka and Lorena. Damir Kalapač stands as his uncle, with Zvonimir being his grandfather. Gvardiol’s father, Tihomir, not only has a history in football but also proudly wears the hat of a fisherman and fish merchant. On the other hand, his mother, Sanja, previously worked with a wholesale firm in Zagreb.

Identifying with the South Slavic community, Josko’s roots trace back to Novigrad through his father and Srednjak via his mother. In terms of education, he is an alumnus of Srednjaci Kindergarten, Josip Račić Elementary School, and Road Traffic School. Standing tall at 1.85 meters or 6 feet 1 inch, Josko has made significant strides in his career.

Having hailed from a middle-class background, Gvardiol’s journey to football stardom was set in motion by his father’s decision to enrol him in the local club, Trešnjevka.

From there, the path led to his dream club, Dinamo Zagreb, where he honed his skills and emerged as one of Croatia’s football prodigies. Before transitioning to RB Leipzig, he clinched several titles, including Prva HNL, Croatian Cup, and Croatian Super Cup.

Upon joining RB Leipzig, he achieved a personal milestone by gifting his parents a home in Rakitje, just west of Zagreb.

As a valuable player under Jesse Marsch’s leadership, Gvardiol was part of the squad that clinched the DFB-Pokal for the 2021-2022 season.

As we wrap up this biography, Gvardiol eagerly anticipates showcasing his prowess in the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. He, to this day, approves of Lionel Messi As his Idol despite their World Cup matchup.


We at SoccerBiography are dedicated to providing accurate and fair portrayals of European football narratives. This biography of Gvardiol is just one among our series focusing on Croatian footballers.

Should you come across any inconsistencies in this account of the burgeoning defender, please drop us a comment. We also invite your feedback on Josko’s career trajectory and this article.

Alongside Josko Gvardiol’s story, we have other intriguing European football tales. Dive into the life chronicles of Jeremy Doku and Matheus Nunes.

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