Branko Zebec

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Branko Zebec, 1953

Branko Zebec [ ˈbraːnkɔ ˈzɛbets ] (born May 17, 1929 in Zagreb , Kingdom of Yugoslavia , † September 26, 1988 in Zagreb, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ) was a Yugoslav football player and coach . In Germany he was best known as the coach of Bundesliga teams.


In addition to sports, he also studied mathematics and physics. The university offered him a scientific career because of his academic achievements, but Zebec decided to play football.

Player career

As a football player, he was active in his youth for Gradjanski Zagreb, a predecessor club of Dinamo Zagreb , later for Lokomotive Zagreb as well as for FK Partizan Belgrade and FK Red Star Belgrade . From 1961 to 1965 he also played in Germany, for Alemannia Aachen in the Oberliga and Regionalliga West, where he also ended his active career. For Yugoslavia, he made 65 international matches and scored 17 goals. Zebec was used twice in the world eleven . At the Olympic football tournament in Helsinki in 1952 , he won the silver medal with Yugoslavia. Zebec was the top scorer of the tournament as a left winger with seven goals. Yugoslavia was only defeated in the final of the tournament by the legendary Hungarian team , which remained undefeated between 1950 and 1954.

He was also one of the leading Yugoslav players in the 1954 World Cup . His team had reached the World Cup with 8: 0 points and 4: 0 goals (four times 1: 0), had advanced to the quarter-finals as an unseeded team with a 1: 0 against France and a 1: 1 against Brazil (Tor Zebec) and lost there 0: 2 against eventual world champions Germany. Also at the 1958 World Cup, Germany brought the Yugoslavs out in the quarter-finals, this time 1-0. Zebec played in midfield in this tournament and was the captain of his team. In 1960 he took part with Yugoslavia in the finals of the first European football championship in France. He was in the team in the semi-finals against France. France led in this game until the 75th minute 4-2, in the end Yugoslavia won 5-4. In the final, Yugoslavia lost without Zebec against the USSR with 1: 2 after extra time.

Coaching career

Dinamo Zagreb

Zebec found his first job as a coach at Dinamo Zagreb , where he also celebrated his first major success. In the finals of the Exhibition Cup , the predecessor of today's UEFA Cup , Leeds United were defeated 2-0 and 0-0. This success was somewhat fortunate in that in the first round of the competition Spartak Brno could only be eliminated thanks to the draw after results of 2-0 and 0-2. Zebec exercised his coaching activities at Dinamo together with the later Bundesliga coach Ivica Horvat (1972 DFB Cup winner with FC Schalke 04 ).

Bayern Munich

For the 1968/69 season , FC Bayern Munich brought him into the Bundesliga. Zebec stayed until March 12, 1970. In his book “Ich bin noch kein Tor”, Sepp Maier attests that the trainer had extremely hard, almost “brutal” training methods that gave the team in the Bundesliga “great” advantages in terms of fitness, but in the long run the break with the team. With Zebec, the club became German champions for the first time since 1932. In total, he only used 13 players during the season. After a 2-1 win in the final against FC Schalke 04, he was also a cup winner with Bayern - the first double in Bundesliga history. In September 1969, however, Zebec declared that it did not want to extend its contract, which was running out at the end of the season. In March, after the 26th matchday, FC Bayern, who had already been eliminated in the first round of the European Cup (2-0 and 0-3 against AS St. Etienne), were five after just one point from three games Points deficit in the Bundesliga in third place. A title defense was out of the question. Zebec has therefore already been replaced for the remaining games of the season by Udo Lattek , who should not have taken over until the new season. Franz Beckenbauer reported in his book "One like me" about atmospheric disturbances between Zebec and the Munich "Star Ensemble".

VfB Stuttgart and Hajduk Split

From the beginning of the 1970/71 season until March 12, 1972, he coached VfB Stuttgart . The team finished the first season in 12th place (30:38 points, 49:49 goals). At the end of the second season, VfB was in 8th place (35:33 points, 52:56 goals). In 1972, Zebec joined Hajduk Split again , where Tomislav Ivić was the head coach. With Hajduk Split he won the national cup in 1972/73 and advanced to the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Eintracht Braunschweig

Zebec came to Bundesliga promoted Eintracht Braunschweig in 1974 and stayed for four full seasons. Already in the first few weeks his team, which started as an outsider, caused a stir. It developed into a favorite scare, defeated one top team after the other (including 3: 1 against Bayern Munich, who had traveled to Braunschweig as champions, European Cup winners and core of the world championship eleven), were temporarily in second place, but were in the end with 9th place ( 36:32 points; 52:52 goals) very satisfied. In the following two years Braunschweig played for the German championship, was repeatedly leader of the table and finished the competition in 1976 in fifth place (39:29 points, 52:48 goals) and in 1977 in third (43:25 points, 56:38 goals). In 1977 there was only a single point missing from master Mönchengladbach. By the way, Zebec had brought two compatriots to Braunschweig, the winger Danilo Popivoda as perhaps the most important player of his team at the time and the midfielder Aleksandar Ristić , who would later follow him as assistant coach at Hamburger SV and be his successor as head coach. In 1977/78 Paul Breitner's engagement did not bring the hoped-for boost. Rather, the club had to fight against relegation at times; in the end they ended up in 13th place (32:36 points, 43:53 goals).

Hamburger SV

In 1978 Zebec moved to Hamburger SV . The club was tenth in the table in 1977/78; in previous years, however, they were in second to sixth place. Manager Günter Netzer wanted to bring the team back to a UEFA Cup place. Unlike ten years earlier at Bayern, Zebec got along quite well with the HSV stars, but they were also different personalities than the Bayern stars around 1970. Kevin Keegan , Horst Hrubesch or Manfred Kaltz were comparatively calm, uncomplicated types who were initially good coped with Zebec's tactical guidelines. In 1979 HSV won their first championship title since 1960, but the following season the first problems appeared, despite second place. The players rebelled because Zebec had allegedly trained too hard towards the end of the season. As a result, so the critics, the championship (1: 2 at promoted Leverkusen) and European Cup (0: 1 in the final against Nottingham) were lost within four days. In addition, Zebec's alcoholism became increasingly evident. He lost his driver's license. Against Borussia Dortmund , he is said to have sat on the coaching bench with 3.25 per thousand. The HSV went into the third season with Zebec and was at the top for the first half of the season, but on December 16, 1980 dismissed his coach because of alcohol problems. Bayern Munich became champions.

Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt

Borussia Dortmund was the next stop in the 1981/82 season. The club reached 6th place with 41:27 points, 59:40 goals, which was the best Dortmund result in twelve years and was just about enough for the UEFA Cup, but could not cover up the progressive personal problems of the coach (among other things, he fell in a game drunk backwards from the dugout). Eintracht Frankfurt became his last coaching position in the Bundesliga. The club, known at the time for the number of early trainer dismissals, got him on September 19, 1982 after the dismissal of the former Austrian national trainer Helmut Senekowitsch , who had been signed only a few weeks earlier, finished 10th at the end of the season and dealt with Zebec in the next season to release him after a few weeks on October 17, 1983.

Dinamo Zagreb

Then in 1984 he took over a short-term engagement at the club where he had started his coaching career, at Dinamo Zagreb.

Balance sheet

In total, he acted 413 times as a Bundesliga coach (6th place in the all-time coaching ranking) and experienced 193 wins, 96 draws and 124 defeats with a goal balance of 733: 536.

His record as a coach and as a person is mixed. He was considered an intelligent, silent, idiosyncratic, sensitive person and one of the best football coaches of his time with an instinctive feeling for the tactically optimal deployment of his players. In his best times he played football according to scientific principles, which is also the main reason for his success. His difficulties lay in the interpersonal area. He sealed off his personality and, by the mid-1970s at the latest, his alcoholism from the outside world and appeared cool and aloof. Branko Zebec found his final resting place in the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb.

Career overview

Player career
period society title
1951-1959 FK Partizan Belgrade 1952 - Yugoslav Cup
1954 - Yugoslav Cup
1957 - Yugoslav Cup
1959-1961 FK Red Star Belgrade 1960 - Yugoslav champion
1961-1965 Alemannia Aachen
Coaching career
period society title
1965-1967 Dinamo Zagreb 1967 - trade fair trophy 1
1968-1970 FC Bayern Munich 1969 - DFB-Pokal
1969 - German championship
1970-1972 VfB Stuttgart
1972-1973 Hajduk Split
1974-1988 Eintracht Braunschweig
1978-1980 Hamburger SV 1979 - German championship
1981-1982 Borussia Dortmund
1982-1983 Eintracht Frankfurt
1984 Dinamo Zagreb
1together with Ivica Horvat

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. (PDF).
  3. Only in Dschum In: Der Spiegel. 53/1980.