It's the end of an era on the Bosphorus as Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul announced that Zeljko Obradovic, the winningest head coach in European basketball history, will not remain on the team's bench. Obradovic informed the club on Tuesday of his decision to take a respite from coaching. Fenerbahce is now in search of a new head coach after having nine-time continental champion Obradovic, 60, roam the sidelines for the past seven seasons while turning the club into a EuroLeague powerhouse and a perennial contender.
"I took one of my hardest decisions in life with my family," Obradovic said in a statement. "In this moment, I have made the decision to take a timeout for one year."
Not only has Fenerbahce compiled 148-69 EuroLeague record under Obradovic, but he guided the team to five consecutive Final Four berths from 2015 to 2019, to three consecutive championship games from 2016 to 2018, and to a historic EuroLeague title in 2017 at a memorable Final Four in Istanbul. It was the first EuroLeague title for any Turkish club in basketball history, and the unprecedented ninth for Obradovic at the top of European basketball, more than any other player or coach.
"We accept this sad decision with respect to Zeljko Obradovic who with the joining of the Fenerbahçe family in the 2013-2014 season and during the whole period of is duty, most importantly with the Euroleague championship won in 2017, has accomplished numerous successes and has written his name in golden letters into the history of our club," the club said in a statement. "Zeljko Obradovic, as the legend of Fenerbahçe with all of the successes he has won and the happiness beyond imagination he has let us experience, will always continue to be part of our family.
Obradovic won his first Euroleague title with Partizan Belgrade of his native Serbia in 1992 and went on to lift the trophy with Joventut Badalona in 1994, Real Madrid in 1995 and Panathinaikos Athens in 2000, 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011. Obradovic is the only coach to lead six different teams to the Final Four: Partizan, Joventut, Real, Benetton Treviso, Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce. He won the Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year award in 2007, 2011 and 2017, and was chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Contributors to European club basketball in 2008. Obradovic also won two Saporta Cup titles, with Real in 1997 and Benetton in 1999. He has lifted 16 league titles, including four with Fenerbahce, and 11 domestic cups, the latest being the 2020 Turkish Cup with his current team. Obradovic also coached the Yugoslavian national to a silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games, the 1997 EuroBasket title and the 1998 World Championship. During his playing career, Obradovic was a point guard who helped Partizan win the Yugoslavian League in 1987, the Korac Cup in 1989, and was a member of the storied Yugoslavian national team that won the silver medal at the 1988 Olympics and at the 1990 World Championships.
Zeljko Obradovic's statement
"Last week, I had extremely warm and trustful conversations with President Ali Koc, Vice President Semih Ozsoy and General Manager Maurizio Gherardini. We agreed that I take few days in a family atmosphere back in Belgrade to decide in calm. I took one of my hardest decisions in life with my family that in this moment I have made the decision to take a time out for one year.
"After seven fantastic years the only thing left for me is to thank from the bottom of my heart the ex-President Aziz Yildirim and his board and the current president Ali Koc, the Vice President Semih Ozsoy and their board for the support they gave me during those times. I would like to mention the support that our partners gave us throughout those years like the Ulker family, the Dogus group, Beko and all others who have been supporting us. Next, I would like to thank the office staff which was lead by General Manager Maurizio Gherardini with whom we shared incredible moments. Also, all my members of the coaching and medical staff for everything we did together and especially for the extraordinary relationships we had even in difficult times. A big thanks to all players that I worked with in the last seven years. They are the most important ones that performed those outstanding results. Special thanks to all without whom this job makes no sense, the fans. They have been showing us endless support and love in every moment during those wonderful seven years. There were so many moments that they gave us that I will never forget in my life.
"It was an honor and pleasure to be a member of a big club like Fenerbahce. This is a new beginning for Fener and not the end and I am sure that the fans will for sure continue to support the club and that they will celebrate again great sportive moments like we did before.