Romeo Jozak at the Sydney United Sports Centre where he will be conducting technical lessons for players and coaches.

Romeo Jozak at the Sydney United Sports Centre where he will be conducting technical lessons for players and coaches. Photo: Brendan Esposito

No sooner had Romeo Jozak taken his seat in Sydney's Shangri-La Hotel lobby than he made one thing clear: he is not here to pinch Australia's best young players for Croatia.

It is absurd that relations between two soccer nations have been reduced to this, but Jozak, Croatia's national technical director, knows it is a sore point.

''Don't worry, my job is not to make them choose the 'chequers' [Croatia's coat of arms]. I'm here to help Australian players and to pass on my experiences and insights,'' he said. ''Besides, I think I might have some ideas for you.''

The 41-year-old is held in high regard internationally. Youth-obsessed Arsenal made him its prime candidate to replace academy boss and ex-Gunners legend Liam Brady, who steps down in May next year.

He knocked back the offer. A year before, he also knocked back more than $500,000 from the Irish FA to be its technical director.

''I've got three young kids, so I'm settled in Zagreb for the moment and I have an opportunity to help my country,'' Jozak said. ''Maybe in the future I'll think about going elsewhere. Maybe even somewhere like Australia.''

With that festering issue of diplomacy fixed up, it is time to start plundering Jozak's brain - one that helped guide Luka Modric, Eduardo da Silva, Vedran Corluka, Niko Kranjcar and Dejan Lovren to stardom when he was in charge of Dinamo Zagreb's youth academy.

So how does Croatia, with a population of just 4.5 million, manage to produce such an embarrassment of world-class players?

''God might have blessed us with a great ability, but the rest we did ourselves,'' Jozak said. ''We've developed great coaches and they really know how to coach at every level. They understand the system and they follow it.''

Jozak, a PhD with a thesis in soccer and a senior lecturer for UEFA, is in Australia because Sydney United president Mark Ivancic and the club's technical director Luka Hrzina wanted him to map out a plan for the club's future.

Soon, A-League clubs caught wind of his visit and he was sought out by Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic and Sydney FC's Zeljko Kalac.

On Wednesday, Football Federation Australia, with a delegation spearheaded by Alex Tobin and Ian Crook, listened to Jozak's presentation.

Jozak believes Australian clubs should learn from clubs that are also limited by funds but still produce elite quality.

''Go and check out Athletic Bilbao,'' he said. ''They can't buy players [due to a strict Basque-only cantera policy], so they have to make their own. [Bundesliga club] Freiburg are excellent and so is Dinamo. They're so good because they're under huge pressure to produce great players.''

Jozak said he had a sleepless night after seeing Croatia draw Brazil in next year's World Cup, but said nobody should count his nation out - and nor should anyone count out Australia, despite being drawn with Chile, the Netherlands and all-conquering Spain.

''There's six-seven months for your coaching staff to prepare, which means their tactics will be crucial,'' he said. ''Matches can still be decided by moments. It might be a yellow card, a corner, a free kick. There's opportunities inside each game against any team, even great ones.''

And a winner? ''I like what the Germans are doing. I think they can bring something special to Brazil.''