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Water Polo

Three coaches can celebrate a “revival party”?

News & Stories from Belgrade – 12 January 

Not only a handful of players are highly decorated with titles and medals from previous Olympic Games, World and European Championships in Belgrade – we also have several coaches who can look back to an illustrious playing career. Three of them can celebrate a “revival party” in Belgrade as they competed together in one team in the past.

Serbian Dejan Savic, Vladimir Gojkovic from the neighbouring Montenegro – both head coaches of their respective teams – as well as Petar Trbojevic (assistant coach of Germany’s women) were in the same team while clinching the the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, playing for Serbia & Montenegro. Furthermore all three were members of the 2005 World Champion side in Montreal, and earlier in 2001 when the last gold medal was won under the name of Yugoslavia, at the Europeans in Budapest.

Dejan Savic and Vladimir Gojkovic also earned gold with Serbia & Montenegro at the 2003 Europeans in Kranj. Additionally Vladimir Gojkovic won the title at the 2008 Europeans in Malaga – then with the meanwhile independent Montenegro. Petar Trbojevic achieved another gold with Serbia in 2006, when the European Championships were hosted in Belgrade for the first time.

The most decorated coach is three-time Olympic Champion Tibor Benedek from Hungary who played against the three above-mentioned Serbian and Montenegrin greats in a series of battles. He won the title in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Bejing (2008). As a player he also won gold at the 2003 Worlds in Barcelona and at the 1997 Europeans in Seville.

The highlights of Alessandro Campagna’s career – coach of the Italian men’s side – are the Olympic Gold in Barcelona 1992, the World title in front of a home crowd in Rome 1994 and the 1993 European title in Sheffield. Russian coach Erkin Shagaev can be proud of the same collection: golds at the 1980 Olympics at home in Moscow, at the 1982 Worlds in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and at the 1983 Europeans in Rome. 

Spain shows up with two former well-known players: men’s coach Gabriel Hernandez grabbed gold at the 2001 Worlds in Fukuoka and women’s coach Miguel Oca was member of the 1996 Olympic winning team in Atlanta. That side’s prominent player was Manuel Estiarte, one of the best players of all time (with the highest number of goals by a top scorer at the Europeans, 36 in Athens 1991). He is currently working as an assistant coach in football with the world-famous Pep Guardiola of Bayern Munich.