As a player, he was a member of the Yugoslavia national team and played in the 1964 Olympics. As assistant manager, he won a bronze medal with Yugoslavia at the 1984 Olympics, and reached the quarterfinals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup as the manager of Yugoslavia.
Born during World War II in Sarajevo, precisely one month after the Nazi German invasion of Yugoslavia, to Slovene-German father Mihail "Puba" Osim who worked as machinist at the railways and Polish-Czech mother Karolina. Both of his parents were also born in Sarajevo. Following the end of the WWII, he started playing football in the FK Željezničar Sarajevo's youth system. He studied mathematics at the University of Sarajevo.
Ivica Osim is married to Asima and they have three children, two sons, Selmir and Amar, and daughter Irma. His son Amar was a football player himself, who afterward also became a football manager. Since 1992 Ivica lived most of the time with his wife in Austria, in Graz., then Japan, and since 2008 Sarajevo.
Osim began his professional career with FK Željezničar Sarajevo in 1959. Osim is considered one of the best Bosnians to step on a football field who was known as a ruthless dribbler. He stayed in Yugoslavia until the end of 1968, as transfers abroad were prohibited for players under 28 at the time. In December 1968 he went to the Netherlands, to play for Zwolsche Boys. This stay lasted only three months, due to a knee injury. In 1970, he moved to RC Strasbourg and played the rest of his career in France, playing for Valenciennes, Sedan and again at Strasbourg.
He played in 16 matches for Yugoslavia, including the 1968 European Championship where the Yugoslavs reached the final, where they lost to Italy.
When his playing career ended in 1978, Osim took the coaching job at the club where he began playing, FK Željezničar Sarajevo. He coached the club until 1986, and finished third in the Yugoslav championship once, reached the Yugoslav Cup final once and the UEFA Cup semifinals once.
Ivica Osim won the 1991–92 Yugoslav Cup with Partizan having beaten his old club FK Željezničar during semi-finals of the competition.
In addition, he assisted Ivan Toplak, coach of the Yugoslav Olympic team at the 1984 Olympics that won the bronze medal.
In 1986, he took over the Yugoslav national team. The first qualifying cycle for Euro 88 ended in failure with an embarrassing 1–4 home loss versus England. Contrary to expectations and custom considering the fate of Yugoslav coaches who presided over prior failed qualifying campaigns, Osim was not fired by Yugoslav FA (FSJ) largely thanks to personal authority of FSJ president Miljan Miljanić who wanted Osim to be given another chance.
Osim's Yugoslavia rebounded in the 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifications, finishing ahead of France and Scotland. At the tournament his team reached the quarterfinals by beating Spain 2-1 in the round of 16, and prceeded to face Diego Maradona's Argentina in the quarterfinals. Despite losing a defender Refik Šabanadžović to a red card at the half an hour mark, Osim's team held on through the entire game, extra time, only to lose on penalties.
Osim also coached FK Partizan from 1991 to 1992, in parallel with the national team, guiding the club to a Yugoslav Cup title in 1992.
Yugoslavia qualified for the 1992 European Championship, but he resigned on May 23, 1992; as his family in Sarajevo faced Serbian bombardment in the Yugoslav wars. "My country doesn't deserve to play in the European Championship," said Osim, "On the scale of human suffering, I cannot reconcile events at home with my position as national manager." Yugoslavia was banned from the event, and its newly independent states have since competed as separate nations. Osim's home national team Bosnia and Herzegovina had to wait further 23 years to qualify for their first major football competition, having done so for 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
After leaving Yugoslavia, he coached Panathinaikos from 1992 to 1994, winning the Greek Cup in 1993 and 1994, and finishing second in the league in 1993.
Between 1994 and 2002, Osim coached SK Sturm Graz, whom he led to the Austrian Championship in 1998 and 1999, the Austrian Cup in 1999 and the Austrian Supercup in 1998 and 1999. Sturm Graz appeared in the UEFA Champions League from 1998 to 2000.
From 2003 to 2006, Osim coached JEF United Ichihara (now JEF United Chiba) of the J1 League and built a contender despite the club's modest means. The club came closest to its first league title in 2003 when it finished third in the season's first stage and second in the second stage. In 2005, the club won its first major title, the J. League Cup.
On 21 July 2006, he was appointed the manager of the Japanese national team, following Zico, who had resigned following 2006 FIFA World Cup. Japan defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2–0 in his debut as head coach on 9 August 2006.
At the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, Osim failed to lead Japan to its third successive title, losing to Saudi Arabia in the semifinal and to South Korea in the third-place match on penalty kicks. He said, "I feel like I've dropped my trousers. Twice," in describing his own coaching performance, pointing out that he did not rest tired players. During the tournament, Osim reduced his interpreter to tears during a dressing room tirade, in which he called his players "amateurs" following a 1–1 draw against Qatar, and refused to watch the penalty shootout against Australia in the quarterfinal round, saying "I didn't see it because it was bad for my heart. I don't want to die while I coach Japan's national team. I want to die in my hometown, Sarajevo."
Osim's remarks gained popularity with Japanese fans, and Words of Osim (オシムの言葉, Oshimu no kotoba) (ISBN 4797671084), a collection of his quotes published in 2005, sold 400,000 copies and was on the bestseller list in Japan.
On 16 November 2007, Osim suffered a stroke at his residence in Chiba, Japan while watching a friendly match between Austria and England on television He was in coma for almost a three weeks during which time he was visited by notable people of worlds football like Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter among others. Eventually, Osim regained consciousness on 3 December 2007 and asked his wife, Asima, "What's the score?" of the game he was watching at the critical moment when he suffered the stroke.He was then moved from an intensive care unit to a general ward at the Juntendo University hospital in Urayasu, Chiba on 23 December 2007.
On 7 December 2007, the Japan Football Association formally announced the appointment of Takeshi Okada, who managed Japan during the 1998 World Cup, to replace Osim as Japan manager.
On 18 April 2011 FIFA announced that Osim would head an interim committee to run the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina after the country was suspended for two months from all international competitions by FIFA.Yugoslav Cup: 1992
Greek Cup: 1993
Greek Super Cup: 1993
Austrian championship: 1998, 1999
Austrian Cup: 1999
Austrian Supercup: 1998, 1999
J. League Cup: 2005
Order of the Rising Sun, 4th Class, Gold Rays with Rosette: 2016