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Legendary Croatian footballer Slaven Zambata passes away aged 80

Slaven Zambata Dinamo

(Photo credit: Ex13/CC BY-SA 3.0)

ZAGREB, 29 October 2020 – Croatian footballer Slaven Zambata, the legendary captain of the golden generation of Dinamo Zagreb, which won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1967, has died in Zagreb at the age of 80.

Born in 1940 in Sinj, Zambata started playing football for Junak Sinj in his hometown before signing for Dinamo Zagreb in 1959. Zambata spent a decade at the club, scoring 267 goals in 393 appearances. 

He was captain of the side which famously beat Leeds United to win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1967. In that season, he played 38 games and scored 24 goals, six of which in the prestigious European competition. Zambata won four Yugoslav Cups with Dinamo. 

After leaving Dinamo in 1969 he played for a few seasons for Belgian clubs KSV Waregem and Crossing Club before returning shortly to Zagreb in 1972. He quit playing football in 1973 after a couple of serious injuries (he had surgery performed on both of his menisci just before his retirement).

He debuted for Yugoslavia in 1962 in a friendly against East Germany in Leipzig and went on to earn 31 caps and scored 21 goals, and during his international career, he captained Yugoslavia at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, where they finished sixth out of 16 teams. His last international match was on 27 October 1968 against Spain.

Today he is still one of the most prolific goalscorers in Dinamo’s history and is considered one of the best forwards of the 1960s. Zambata graduated from the Faculty of Law and earned the annual Croatian”Franjo Bučar”State Award for Sports.

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U velikoj tuzi i bolna srca javljamo da nas je rano jutros zauvijek napustio naš proslavljeni nogometaš, naš dragi, omiljeni i nezaboravni “plavi devet” – Slaven Zambata. Jedan od najvećih Dinamovih igrača svih vremena, napadač sa stilom, igrač za nogometne gurmane i sladokusce, kapetan proslavljene generacije iz 1967. godine, krajem rujna je obilježio svoj 80. rođendan, a dulje je od šest desetljeća bio usko vezan uz maksimirski klub. Bdio je nad svakim rezultatom, svakim potezom, emotivno pratio događanja vezana uz Dinamo i ta nas je međusobna ljubav vezala do zadnjega dana. Zauvijek će njegovo ime i djelo ostati upisani u zlatnu povijest Dinama. Počivao u miru… 😔🙏🏻🕯💙 Termin komemoracije i ispraćaja objavit ćemo naknadno. GNK Dinamo ovom prilikom izražava duboku sućut obitelji i prijateljima našeg Slavena. #dinamozagreb #zagreb #hrvatska #croatia #football

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