Zeljko Obradovic is the only coach in European basketball history who have won nine EuroLeague titles and he did it with five different clubs. Obradovic has as many cups as Real Madrid, a unique feat for a coach to be as successful as a whole club in sports.
By Eurohoops team
Zoc commented for “El Mundo Deportivo” his nine EuroLeague titles with five different clubs. The only one club he coached and he didn’t won a EuroLeague with them was Benetton Treviso, were he met for the first time Fenerbahce’s general manager Mauricio Gherardini. Still he did reach the Final Four with the Italians
Istanbul 1992 (Partizan)
“A shock! Of course, a very positive one. The youngest team in the history of the competition, also playing 20 of 21 matches outside Belgrade (ed.note: due to Yugoslavian civil was), I thought it was something that would never happen again.
Tel Aviv 1994 (Joventut)
“It may be strange, but what I remember most is the lament of the Madrid press in the quarter-finals when we eliminated Real Madrid by 2-0. They said that Real could represent better the Spanish basketball in the Final Four of Tel Aviv … It turns out that in semis we beat Barcelona easy enough. From the final I cannot forget the irregular last minute, when the clock stopped. The day of the final I took the players to the zoo, I wanted them to relax”.
Zaragoza 1995 (Real Madrid)
“When I signed for Real the club put a clause in the contract: in order to renew I would have to win the Euroleague. My lawyer told me that I would be crazy if I accepted but I signed. I would say it was the easiest title I ever won. We reached the Final Four of Zaragoza without problems and there we beat first Limoges and then Olympiacos in the final”.
Thessaloniki 2000 (Panathinaikos)
“My first year in Athens. I still did not know enough about the club. Days before we went to Thessaloniki we lost to PAOK in the Cup and the fans cheered the players. People from Maccabi spoke to Oded Katash, who told me literally: “Coach, do not worry, we’ll win for sure. I know my folks (Maccabi, his former team), there is no one who can defend me”. I have never seen so much confidence in a player. We won thanks to a great performance by Katash, but also Bodiroga, Rebraca, Gentile…”
ZOC, the story behind the nickname
For friends, Obradovic is “Zoc”. Z and O come from their initials. The C comes from the Serbian word “cepati”, which means “to break”. As a player he had a very good shot and from there came the nickname “breaks nets” (or “cepa”).
Bologna 2002 (Panathinaikos)
“Great victory, first in the semis against Maccabi and in the final against Kinder, who played at home. A man came up to my stool and threw something white. It was salt. I asked what was that and they told me that in Italy they think this gesture brings bad luck. I looked for that guy later to thank him for the “bad luck” he had brought me.”
Athens 2007 (Panathinaikos)
‘Maybe the best final – basketballwise – I played and I talk about my team and the rival. We beat a great CSKA team 93-91. I am proud for recovering two players who came almost disabled, Vujanic and Becirovic in the team, while Tomasevic was at the end of his career. We had a great team, with Diamantidis, Siskauskas, Dikoudis … ”
Berlin 2009 (Panathinaikos)
“One of the toughest Final Four I could recollect. Every game depended on one possession, one play. It is always something special to overcome Olympiacos (in the semis). In the final we played brilliantly in the first half, but CSKA reacted and almost defeated us”.
Barcelona 2011 (Panathinaikos)
“We did the hard work in the quarters by eliminating Barcelona. We had lost the first game on their court, but the first thing I said to my players was: “Do you get it now that we can win?” And we did it. We returned home with the series tied at 1-1 and won both games in Athens with authority. In the Final Four, Siena caused us more troubles in the semis than Maccabi in the final”.
Istanbul 2017 (Fenerbahçe)
“The culmination of a long work. Much patience on the part of the club, a lot of confidence, a lot of work. I know that I was signed to get this and I am proud to have achieved it”
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