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Volleyball family mourns passing of Zoran Petrovic

Belgrade, Serbia, April 26, 2017 – Zoran Petrovic, one of Serbia's best-ever players and a legendary sports journalist and former editor of the sports daily “Sportski Zurnal,” passed away on Tuesday in Belgrade at the age of 80.

Petrovic was born on March 24, 1938, in Belgrade. After World War II, he turned to sport, one of the outlets that youths could focus on after surviving the horrors of war.

His first love was football and FC Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade). Before an official match between Crvena Zvezda and Austria Vienna in 1951, he played in an exhibition game with the youth team of Crvena Zvezda and scored the only goal against Partizan Belgrade in front of 55 000 spectators.

In the summer of 1951, a volleyball court was built in the Karaburma district of Belgrade. The volleyball team that played there took the country's name: Yugoslavia. With Zoran Petrovic as one of the key players, the team won four consecutive championships (1958-61) and three national cups (1959-61). They were remembered as the “barefoot champs” as they played without sneakers.

In 1964, VC Yugoslavia joined with VC Partizan, and Zoran Petrovic won one more championship title (1967) with the new team, along with one additional national cup (1964). He finished his playing career in 1973.

In 10 years playing for the national team of Yugoslavia, he took part in 137 matches. In fact, he didn’t miss a single match over that period. He played at the European and World Championships but never won a medal despite playing with a very talented group of players. But he picked up gold medals on two occasions at the Mediterranean Games, in Naples in 1963, and in Tunisia in 1967.

He participated in the World Championship in 1962 in Moscow (8th place) and in 1966 in Prague (8th place), and at the European Championship in 1958 in Prague (7th place), in 1963 in Bucharest (7th place), and in 1967 in Istanbul (7th place).

His career as a journalist started in 1966. At first, he worked as an honorary correspondent in Belgrade for Zagreb’s “Sportske Novosti” sports newspaper, and was given a full-time job in 1969. He stayed with “Sportski Zurnal” from its founding in 1990 until he retired in 2003.

He followed a great number of sports, such as wrestling, basketball, volleyball, water-polo, handball and football. He was first to reveal the transfer of Igor Milanovic, Serbia’s water-polo legend, from Partizan Belgrade to Mladost Zagreb. Also, he was first to reveal that the young and promising basketball star Vlade Divac was heading to the LA Lakers.

He spent the most of his time with basketball and volleyball players. He reported from Belgrade in 1975 and Paris in 1979 when Yugoslavia won bronze medals at the CEV European Championship. Working with “Sportski Zurnal,” he followed the memorable climb of Serbian volleyball, starting from 1995. The crowning point of his career as a journalist was Yugoslavia’s gold medal in Ostrava at the 2001 CEV European Championship.

In his lifetime, he was awarded many honours such as the “Merit for the People with the Silver Star,” a “Lifetime Achievement Award” and the “Golden Plaque of the Volleyball Federation of Serbia.”

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