“Two World Cups and two medals. Not bad for a guy from John O’Groats.”
Meet Marc Rochon, video analyst with the Croatian national team.
Indisputably the most decorated Scotsman when it comes to Fifa World Cup silverware, his story shows that routes up the football mountain are many and varied and not exclusively reserved for those with magic in their boots.
It all began with Marc quitting a job in retail that he hated before embarking on a sport science degree in 2008. There followed an internship with Southampton, spells with Tottenham and Portsmouth before a move to the United Arab Emirates to join Al-Ain.
“That’s where I met Zlatko Dalic,” he explains. “We worked there together for three-and-a-half years. We won the league, we won the cups, we reached the Asian Champions League final. We had a fantastic run together.
“When he left he joined the national team of Croatia. I sent him a text saying, ‘Best of luck. If you’re needing anything let me know.’ He said, ‘Well we don’t have an analyst. Could you help me out?'”
Cue a crash course by Rochon to supply Dalic with a profile on their first opponents, Ukraine – a match Croatia would win 2-0.
Next up the lowdown on Croatia’s 2018 World Cup play-off opponents, Greece. That ended in a 4-1 aggregate victory which snowballed into a glorious run all the way to the 2018 World Cup final.
After that silver medal success in Russia, Rochon has never looked back. Now with an additional bronze medal from Qatar, he continues to play a part in the incredible Croatia success story.
So what does the job of video analyst actually involve? Images spring to mind of hours spent in front of screens before telling the maestro Luka Modric what to do, but of course that’s not quite the case.
“I’m not trying to teach someone how to play football,” Rochon says.
“I am watching the opposition and watching us and saying – well, this is where we are strong, and this is what we’re really good at and this is what they are not good at.
“And then we are trying to match up our strengths to their weaknesses to make sure we can benefit the most out of our tactical play, out of the personnel we put on the pitch. And that we are focused and ready for the game to give us the best opportunity in that match.”
“So being able to tactically analyse them, being able to individually analyse them, prepare ourselves in training as well – so we analyse our own training sessions so that we can say well this hasn’t worked well, we need to work a little bit more on this, or this guy hasn’t applied himself so much as that guy so maybe we need to look at what he’s doing.”
So are there ever disagreements between himself and the players in terms of approach?
“Of course. That happens regularly,” says Rochon.
“The players are often involved in that discussion as well. I will go to them and say, ‘This is what I have seen on this guy, what do you think?’ And it’s not a case of, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong.'”
“And then we have an open discussion on it and we come to a conclusion.
“That’s the key thing – coming to a conclusion at the end of it, so you know that’s what we have agreed, that’s what we are going to do. And that’s really a healthy relationship.”
‘I get included in everything’
As the team followed up their runner-up success at the 2018 World Cup with another semi-final appearance in 2022, Rochon would experience first-hand the incredible homecoming reception as the squad returned to Zagreb as heroes.
“That was an unbelievable night,” he recalls. “We arrived back and it was sub-zero conditions.
“Open top bus parade through the city. I think it was something like 100,000 people there, fireworks going off everywhere. It was fantastic to be able to share in that.
“I’m the only foreign national in the team and I get included in everything. They make sure I understand everything. It was really lovely to be part of that.
“After Russia, that day I think it took us nine hours to get from the airport to the city centre which is normally about a 45 minute journey. And then to repeat it again after Qatar, it was just incredible.
“You just don’t expect to be part of that when you go into football in the beginning, you don’t ever dream you are going to do something like that.”