Croatia, who won all six of their matches at the tournament and overcame powerhouses Italy and defending champions Serbia en route to the final, took an early 4-0 lead and then held off a Hungary fightback to take the title.
“We showed character during these two weeks,” Croatian forward Luka Loncar told reporters. “I think our belief in victory the whole time is what made us this strong.”
Hungarian goalkeeper Viktor Nagy said their poor start proved pivotal.
“I was very upset at that first quarter,” Nagy told reporters. “It took a lot of energy to come back.”
Croatia last won the world title in 2007. After claiming gold at the 2012 London Olympics, they endured a barren spell, falling victim on numerous occasions to Serbia, who they beat for the first time in seven years in the semi-finals.
(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Toby Davis)