Ex-Portsmouth manager declared president - for eighth job with his beloved club

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The former Panathinaikos manager won five of his 21 matches in charge of Pompey

A former Pompey manager has been unveiled as Dinamo Zagreb’s new president - marking his eighth role with the club.

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The 68-year-old, who has served his home-town club as a player, head coach, technical director and sports director, is considered something of a legend by their fans.

Velimir Zajec had an unsuccessful spell as Pompey manager. Picture: Getty ImagesVelimir Zajec had an unsuccessful spell as Pompey manager. Picture: Getty Images
Velimir Zajec had an unsuccessful spell as Pompey manager. Picture: Getty Images | Getty Images

Although, Pompey fans will recall his ill-fated Fratton Park spell in the 2004-05 season which caused huge ructions behind the scenes and led to Harry Redknapp’s resignation.

Appointed by Milan Mandaric as executive director of the then Premier League in November 2004, the arrival of the former Yugoslavia international was not warmly received by Blues boss Redknapp.

Uncomfortable with the concept of a director of football working above him and recruiting players, the manager quit along with assistant Jim Smith - only to join Southampton 15 days later.

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Meanwhile, with Pompey now without someone at the helm, Zajec stepped in, initially as caretaker, having previously managed at Panathinaikos and Dinamo Zagreb.

A 1-0 victory at Bolton in his opening match in charge was encouraging and, after six games, he was appointed on a permanent basis.

However, the 1982 World Cup finals midfielder lasted just four-and-a-half months in charge after a disappointing return of five wins in 21 matches.

Replaced by Alain Perrin in April 2005, Zajec returned to executive director role only to depart for personal reasons in October 2005.

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Velimir Zajec relinquished his executive director role to replace Harry Redknapp as Pompey boss in November 2004. Picture: PAVelimir Zajec relinquished his executive director role to replace Harry Redknapp as Pompey boss in November 2004. Picture: PA
Velimir Zajec relinquished his executive director role to replace Harry Redknapp as Pompey boss in November 2004. Picture: PA | PA

He later returned to Dinamo Zagreb for an unsuccessful eight-game spell, which saw him sacked in August 2010.

On Sunday, in the Dinamo Zagreb presidential election, Zajec collected 31 votes from members, with 19 supporting standing president Mirko Barisic, ensuring his appointment.

It marks Zajec’s eighth role with Dinamo, having initially made his debut as an 18-year-old in December 1974, totalling 485 games and 41 goals.

The midfielder later spent four years with Panathinaikos before retiring at the age of 33 and, in April 1989, turned to coaching which, invariably, saw many spells at Dinamo Zagreb.

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