Yes.. For a 4 million nation like Croatia, 3rd place at World Cup is a huge result.. They were 3rd in 98, then 2nd in 2018 and now 3rd again in 2022.. They are above everybody from ex Yugoslavia when it comes to football both on club level and national team.. Dinamo Zagreb is a regular in european competitions.. Not to mention Dinamo produces superstars like Modrić and big talents like Gvardiol.. Croatia really is football powerhouse considiring everything..
Croatia are amazing in football development. I'm respectfully jelous of this.
It seems it takes 3-4 world class talents for the Balkan nations to make wonders on such tournaments. Modric, Brozovic and Perisic are world class players.
Bulgaria had Stoichkov, Balakov, Kostadinov, Letchkov and Trifon Ivanov to make it. The rest of the Bulgaria NT squad were mediocre in stature players, but having those leaders on the team did amazing job. Nowadays our best player is Ilia Gruev, who plays at Werder Bremen. What a downfall. Also few defenders in Serie A & B in Italy.
Romania had Hagi, Popescu and the player I mostly remember was Florin Raducioiu. Adrian Mutu was great talent, but his cocaine addiction killed his career.
Serbia are probably the most underperforiming of all. The talent pool is numberless and still they didn't achive anything remarkable since 1998.
I remember Zlatko Zahovic from Euro 2000, that team was quality.
Also Turkey in 2002 WC. That Galatasaray core had the mentality of winners.