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Zlatko and his wife (Photo: courtesy of Jasna Rather)


Born in Zagreb on Wednesday 19th September 1945, Zlatko Novakovic passed away on Monday 10th January; he was 77 years old, in 2020 he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

He was the head coach of “Mladost” Zagreb for many years during a time when the club dominated matters in the country formerly known as Yugoslavia.

Most notably he was the coach of Jasna Rather, the former Jasna Fazlic, women’s doubles bronze medallist partnering Gordana Perkucin at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

“He was my coach at Mladost from 1982 to 1991, the most important years of my development, I trained daily in a healthy training environment. Zlatko figured out how to deal with my type of personality for which he deserves a special award! He made practices interesting and every minute valuable so I could keep my focus. He was strict but in a very kind way that is rarely seen in table tennis circles. As a human being and ethics, there was no match. He was a father figure to many, our friend, psychologist, and extraordinary coach.” Jasna Rather

The successful Mladost club, 16 times national women’s team champions (Photo: courtesy of Jasna Rather)


Likewise, Zoran Primorac paid tribute.

“Zlatko was my coach in the national team, a real gentleman! He was always modest, never putting himself in the spotlight; his calmness, wisdom and mental strength helped me a lot during my career. A great pedagogue, he knew the human psyche and had a very good relationship with the players. He was a great coach and friend. I will miss him a great deal.” Zoran Primorac

Later he was the coach in the German Bundesliga at Bayreuth and Ochenhausen; more recently he spent 10 years coaching at the Aspire Academy in Doha.

He leaves behind Amela, his wife, the sister of Jasna Rather whom he married on on Saturday 5th January 1991 and two daughters, Asja and Katja.