Zahovič with Olympiacos
|Full name||Zlatko Zahović|
|Date of birth||1 February 1971|
|Place of birth||Maribor, SFR Yugoslavia|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
|1990–1991||→ Proleter Zrenjanin (loan)||25||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
After making a name for himself in Europe in Portugal, most notably with Porto and Benfica where he amassed Primeira Liga totals of 246 games and 54 goals over the course of one full decade, he went on to have brief stints in Spain and Greece. He was known for dribbling and goal-scoring ability alike. Although primarily a midfielder, he scored 11 goals in 32 Champions League appearances and 35 in 80 for the Slovenian national team.
The all-time record holder in goals for Slovenia, with the second most caps, Zahovič was an essential member of the squad as it qualified for the first time ever to a European Championship and a World Cup, in the early 2000s.
Zahovič was born in Maribor, Slovenia, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1989 the 18-year-old NK Kovinar Maribor player was noticed by FK Partizan's Milko Ǵurovski, at the time doing his mandatory military service in the town, who recommended the youngster to the national giants. With the Belgrade side, he was retatively used over the course of three seasons – he also played one year on loan for FK Proleter Zrenjanin – contributing with 15 games and three goals as Partizan won the 1992–93 national championship.
In the 1993 summer, aged 22, Zahovič moved to Portugal and signed for Vitória de Guimarães, joining fellow first divisioner F.C. Porto after three solid seasons and two UEFA Cup qualifications. With Porto he was equally important, winning three consecutive leagues whilst rarely missing a match; in his last year, he scored a career-best 14 goals. Zahovič netted seven goals for Porto during the 1998–99 UEFA Champions League, thus finishing third in the competition's scoring charts behind FC Dynamo Kyiv's Andriy Shevchenko and Dwight Yorke of Manchester United, who both scored eight. The northerners, however, did not make it past the group stage.
In 1999, Zahovič signed for Olympiacos for a fee of €13,5 million, at the time the highest transfer fee paid for a Slovenian player. His year in Greece was marred by hefty fines and a lengthy suspension, for questioning the tactics of Alberto Bigon. Zahovič also fell out with Bigon's predecessor, Dušan Bajević, for returning late from a holiday.
After only one year with Olympiacos, Zahovič moved to Spain's Valencia CF for a fee of £5.5m. His new club reached the final of the 2000–01 UEFA Champions League, lost after a penalty shootout against FC Bayern Munich where he had his attempt saved by Oliver Kahn. Again Zahovič clashed with his manager, Héctor Cúper, claiming he was not being given enough opportunities.
In the 2001 summer Zahovič returned to Portugal and joined S.L. Benfica, as Carlos Marchena moved to Valencia. He was an important first-team member in his first three seasons, but lost his importance when manager Giovanni Trapattoni arrived at the club, a situation which was aggravated in January 2005 with the purchase of Nuno Assis. This in part resulted in a mutual termination of his contract, five months before it was due to expire.
Director of football
Immediately after his retirement from professional football, in June 2005 at the age of 34, Zahovič was offered a head coach position of the Benfica juniors, but opted for a return to his homeland where, in 2007, he became director of football at NK Maribor. With his help Maribor was able to overcome huge financial difficulties and became a dominant force in Slovenian club football for the second time in their history, winning five Championships since 2008; since 2011 the club also enjoyed a fair amount of success in European football, reaching the UEFA Champions League or the Europa League annually.
Zahovič's first match for Slovenia was on 7 November 1992, a friendly match with Cyprus. The national team qualified for UEFA Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands, with the player scoring nine goals in 15 games. In the finals he continued to excel, netting three of the side's four goals in an eventual group stage exit where his performances earned him comparisons to David Beckham.
Slovenia also managed to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, another first. However, after being replaced by manager Srečko Katanec in the 63rd minute of the first group match against Spain (1–3 loss), Zahovič insulted the coach, who immediately sent him home following the match.
Zahovič retired from the national team in December 2003, but reversed his decision two months later. He made his last appearance on 28 April 2004 against Switzerland, and totalled 80 caps and 35 goals (at the time both records), which made him the most successful Slovenian footballer since the country's independence in 1991, and the inception of its football association into FIFA the following year. He remains Slovenia's top goalscorer, although his number of caps was surpassed by Boštjan Cesar on 15 November 2014.
- Yugoslav League: 1992–93
- Portuguese League: 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99
- Portuguese Cup: 1997–98
- Portuguese Supercup: 1998, 1999
- Greek League: 1999–2000
- UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2000–01
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|Yugoslavia||League||Yugoslav Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1990–91||Proleter Zrenjanin||First League||25||0|
|Serbia||League||Serbian Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Portugal||League||Taça de Portugal||Taça da Liga||Europe||Total|
|1993–94||Vitória Guimarães||Primeira Liga||24||1|
|Greece||League||Greek Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Spain||League||Copa del Rey||Copa de la Liga||Europe||Total|
|Portugal||League||Taça de Portugal||Taça da Liga||Europe||Total|
Zahovič's son, Luka, is also a footballer. A striker, he represented Slovenia at youth level. When the son scored a late equaliser on a Champions League group stage match between Maribor and Sporting Clube de Portugal, on 17 September 2014, the two became only the second father and son pair – first among Europeans – to have both scored in the competition since 1992 when the competition was established in its current format.
- EURO 2000 profile; BBC Sport
- Rok Plestenjak (18 September 2014). "Zlatko in Luka Zahović kot edina Evropejca" [Zlatko and Luka as the only Europeans] (in Slovene). Siol. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- "I'm no troublemaker, says Zahovic". BBC Sport. 1 June 2000. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Valencia snap up Zahovic". BBC Sport. 20 July 2000. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Bayern crowned European champions". BBC Sport. 23 May 2001. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Benfica acerta com Valência troca de Marchena por Zahovic (Benfica arranges Marchena/Zahovic swap with Valencia); Record, 20 June 2001 (Portuguese)
- "Benfica let Zahovic leave club". ESPN Soccernet. 11 January 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Benfica bid farewell to Zahovic". UEFA.com. 11 January 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- Požar, Bojan (11 September 2014). "Požareport 11.09.2014 – gost Zlatko Zahovič" [Pozareport 11.09.2014 – guest Zlatko Zahovic] (in Slovenian). Požareport. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Šinkovc, Rok (19 August 2013). "Zahovič working miracles with Maribor". UEFA.com. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- Wilson, Paul (25 June 2000). "Zlatko Zahovic – find of the tournament". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Slovenia send Zahovic home". BBC Sport. 6 June 2002. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- Tallentire, Mark (7 June 2002). "Unruly Zahovic is sent home". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Zahovic bows out for Slovenia". UEFA.com. 6 December 2003. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Zahovic calls time on Slovenia". ESPN Soccernet. 6 December 2003. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Zahovic returns to Slovenia fold". UEFA.com. 6 February 2004. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- Zlatko Zahovic – Goals in International Matches; at RSSSF
- Luka Zahovič; UEFA.com
- Luka Zahovič pozabil na očeta; Slovenske Novice, 3 May 2012 (Slovene)
- Stats and profile at Zerozero
- Stats at ForaDeJogo
- Zlatko Zahovič at National-Football-Teams.com
- Zlatko Zahovič – FIFA competition record