Zlatko Zahovič

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Zlatko Zahovič
Personal information
Full name Zlatko Zahović
Date of birth (1971-02-01) 1 February 1971 (age 48)
Place of birth Maribor, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1979–? Maribor[1]
Kovinar Maribor
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1993 Partizan 37 (6)
1990–1991Proleter Zrenjanin (loan) 25 (0)
1993–1996 Vitória Guimarães 79 (13)
1996–1999 Porto 84 (27)
1999–2000 Olympiacos 14 (7)
2000–2001 Valencia 20 (3)
2001–2005 Benfica 80 (14)
2008–2009 Limbuš Pekre[2] 11 (12)
Total 350 (82)
National team
Yugoslavia U21
1992–2004 Slovenia 80 (35)
2003 Slovenia B[3] 2 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Zlatko Zahovič (Slovene pronunciation: [ˈzlaːtkɔ ˈzaːxɔʋitʃ] (About this soundlisten); born 1 February 1971) is a Slovenian retired footballer who played as an attacking midfielder.

After making a name for himself in Europe in Portugal, most notably with Porto and Benfica where he amassed Primeira Liga totals of 246 matches and 54 goals over one full decade,[4] he went on to have brief stints in Spain and Greece. He was known for dribbling and goal-scoring ability alike.[5] Although primarily a midfielder, he scored 11 goals in 32 Champions League appearances[6] and 35 in 80 for the Slovenian national team.

The all-time record holder in goals for Slovenia, Zahovič was an essential member of the squad as they qualified for the first time ever to a European Championship and a World Cup, in the early 2000s.

Club career[edit]


Zahovič was born in Maribor, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1989, the 18-year-old 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 club.

With the Belgrade club, he was repeatedly 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 it won the 1992–93 national championship.


In the summer of 1993, aged 22, Zahovič moved to Portugal and signed for Vitória de Guimarães, joining fellow Primeira Liga side FC Porto after three solid seasons and two UEFA Cup qualifications. With his new team 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 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.[7]


In 1999, Zahovič signed for Olympiacos F.C. for a fee of £10m, this being at the time the highest sum paid for a Slovenian player. However, 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.[8]

"He was a great player. In Portugal, he achieved something that is almost impossible, being loved by both the fans of Benfica and Porto."

José Mourinho in 2014.


After only one season, Zahovič moved to Spain's Valencia CF for a fee of £5.5m.[9] 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.[10]

Again Zahovič clashed with his manager, Héctor Cúper, claiming he was not being given enough opportunities.[11] Additionally, in October 2000, he was not picked up for a game at his former club for fear of reprisals from its supporters.[12]


In June 2001, Zahovič returned to Portugal and joined S.L. Benfica, as Carlos Marchena moved to Valencia.[13] He was an important first-team member in his first three seasons, but lost his importance when manager Giovanni Trapattoni arrived at the club,[14] a situation which was aggravated in January 2005 with the purchase of Nuno Assis.[15] This in part resulted in a mutual termination of his contract, five months before it was due to expire.[16][17]

International career[edit]

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.[18]

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.[19][20]

Zahovič retired from the national team in December 2003,[21][22] but reversed his decision two months later.[23] He made his last appearance on 28 April 2004 against Switzerland, and totalled 80 caps and 35 goals (at the time both records),[24] 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; his international appearances total was surpassed by Boštjan Cesar on 15 November 2014.

Administrative career[edit]

Immediately after his retirement from professional football, in June 2005 at the age of 34, according to his statement in the Pozareport.si interview, Zahovič was offered a head coach position of the Benfica juniors,[25] but opted for a return to his homeland where, in 2007, he became director of football at NK Maribor.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Zahovič is of Serbian ancestry.[27] In his young years, he played chess and practised ski jumping.[28]

Zahovič's son, Luka, is also a footballer. A striker, he too represented Slovenia at international level.[29] 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.[6]

Career statistics[edit]



Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Yugoslavia League Yugoslav Cup League Cup Europe Total
1989–90 Partizan First League 9 1
1990–91 Proleter Zrenjanin First League 25 0
1991–92 Partizan First League 13 2
Serbia League Serbian Cup League Cup Europe Total
1992–93 Partizan First League 15 3
Portugal League Taça de Portugal Taça da Liga Europe Total
1993–94 Vitória Guimarães Primeira Liga 24 1
1994–95 22 4
1995–96 27 8
1996–97 Porto Primeira Liga 26 7
1997–98 29 6
1998–99 29 14
Greece League Greek Cup League Cup Europe Total
1999–2000 Olympiacos Superleague Greece 14 7
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
2000–01 Valencia La Liga 20 3 1 2 10 1 31 6
Portugal League Taça de Portugal Taça da Liga Europe Total
2001–02 Benfica Primeira Liga 21 6
2002–03 28 6
2003–04 21 2
2004–05 10 0
Country Yugoslavia 47 3
Serbia 15 3
Portugal 237 54
Greece 14 7
Spain 20 3
Total 333 70



Year Apps Goals
1992 1 0
1993 1 0
1994 5 1
1995 6 3
1996 6 1
1997 3 1
1998 9 6
1999 11 8
2000 10 6
2001 8 4
2002 8 2
2003 9 2
2004 3 1
Total 80 35







Limbuš Pekre

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rok Plestenjak (14 October 2017). "Oče NK Maribor se je odločil, da ne bo več molčal" [The father of NK Maribor decided to speak out] (in Slovenian). Siol. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  2. ^ Robert Pogačar (11 September 2014). "Kje je kariero končal Zlatko Zahović?" [Where did Zlatko Zahović end his career?]. Ekipa (in Slovenian). Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Zlatko Zahovič – B reprezentanca" [Zlatko Zahovič – B appearances] (in Slovenian). Football Association of Slovenia. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  4. ^ João Tiago Figueiredo (9 March 2017). ""Como explico a um português que amo FC Porto e Benfica?"" [«How do I explain a Portuguese I love FC Porto and Benfica?»] (in Portuguese). Mais Futebol. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Zlatko Zahovic". BBC Sport. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  6. ^ a b Rok Plestenjak (18 September 2014). "Zlatko in Luka Zahović kot edina Evropejca" [Zlatko and Luka Zahović as the only Europeans] (in Slovenian). Siol. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo superou dois dos três desafios contra o Borussia Dortmund" [Cristiano Ronaldo overcame two of the three challenges against Borussia Dortmund] (in Portuguese). Be Soccer. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  8. ^ "I'm no troublemaker, says Zahovic". BBC Sport. 1 June 2000. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  9. ^ "Valencia snap up Zahovic". BBC Sport. 20 July 2000. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Bayern crowned European champions". BBC Sport. 23 May 2001. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Los coletazos de Zahovic" [Zahovic's lashes]. El País (in Spanish). 29 May 2002. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Zahovic no viaja por temor a los hinchas" [Zahovic does not travel for fear of supporters]. El País (in Spanish). 24 October 2000. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Benfica acerta com Valência troca de Marchena por Zahovic" [Benfica arrange Marchena/Zahovic swap with Valencia]. Record (in Portuguese). 20 June 2001. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Trapattoni deixa Zahovic de fora" [Trapattoni leaves Zahovic out]. Correio da Manhã (in Portuguese). 3 November 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  15. ^ "Um confronto de "ioiós"" [A clash of “yo-yos”]. Record (in Portuguese). 28 February 2005. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Benfica let Zahovic leave club". ESPN Soccernet. 11 January 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  17. ^ "Benfica bid farewell to Zahovic". UEFA. 11 January 2005. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  18. ^ Wilson, Paul (25 June 2000). "Zlatko Zahovic – find of the tournament". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Slovenia send Zahovic home". BBC Sport. 6 June 2002. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  20. ^ Tallentire, Mark (7 June 2002). "Unruly Zahovic is sent home". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  21. ^ "Zahovic bows out for Slovenia". UEFA. 6 December 2003. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  22. ^ "Zahovic calls time on Slovenia". ESPN Soccernet. 6 December 2003. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  23. ^ "Zahovic returns to Slovenia fold". UEFA. 6 February 2004. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  24. ^ Zlatko Zahovic – Goals in International Matches Archived 8 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine; at RSSSF
  25. ^ Požar, Bojan (11 September 2014). "Požareport 11.09.2014 – gost Zlatko Zahovič" [Pozareport 11 September 2014 – guest Zlatko Zahović] (in Slovenian). Požareport. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  26. ^ Šinkovc, Rok (19 August 2013). "Zahovič working miracles with Maribor". UEFA. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  27. ^ "Najbolji Slovenci u Partizanu" [Best Slovenes with Partizan] (in Serbo-Croatian). Sportal. 13 February 2011. Archived from the original on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  28. ^ "ZLATKO vs ZDRAVKO Slovenski Mamić daje igračima 2.5 milijuna eura ako izbace Dinamo". Jutarnji list (in Slovenian). 19 August 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  29. ^ Luka Zahovič pozabil na očeta (Luka Zahovič's forgotten father); Slovenske Novice, 3 May 2012 (in Slovenian)
  30. ^ "Zlatko Zahovic". Footballdatabase. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  31. ^ "Zlatko Zahovič". European Football. Retrieved 18 March 2016.

External links[edit]