One of the great scorers in modern handball, Croatian Zlatko Saracevic, died at the age of 59, as a result of a heart attack at the end of the women’s match between Podravka, the team he coached, and Lokomotiva.
His team won the match, very important to be proclaimed new champion, and after congratulating his players at a press conference, Saracevic suffered a heart attack. He was immediately transferred to a hospital, where he died after being revived for a few minutes.
Saracevic was part of the last and possibly the best generation of handball in the former Yugoslavia. He was a left-handed winger with a powerful throw, a suspension that kept him in the air as if levitating and allowed him to throw after finding where he wanted to place the ball. Loaded on his back, wide as a dock unloader, he had a long and fruitful run.
He was part of the world champion ‘plavi’ team in 1986, not one of its stars. He also won bronze at the 1988 Seoul Games. After the disintegration of the Republic, Saracevic, born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, moved to Croatia, whose colors he defended until 2001. He achieved the silver medal in the 2005 World Cup and was proclaimed Olympic champion in Athens 2004.
His last appearance with the selection of the checkerboard, with whom he played in 81 games, took place in the European 2000. And their last meeting he faced Slovenia for a place in the Sydney Games 2000. At the Dom Sportova in Zagreb Croatia lived a debacle and lost. Saracevic faced another brilliant scorer who disappeared prematurely, the Slovenian (he played with three different teams) Istok Puc.
As a Zagreb player, he won the European Cups of the Croatian team, those of 1992 and 1993, but lost several more when he faced the Barcelona dream team, which won five in a row between 1996 and 2000. In those seasons he managed to be the maximum winner of the competition on two occasions,
He also played for France and for the Hungarian Veszprem, before retiring in 2003 for the Croatian Zamet Rijeka, aged 41. In his last seasons, his handball was limited to receiving the ball, taking the essential steps, getting up, and throwing. He played almost walking, but he still had a lot of gunpowder in his left hand.
He began his career as a coach and has been one of those who has crushed the national team, where he was an assistant coach, and especially Zagreb, who led the 2017-18 season.
An affable, calm man, his loss joins other great ex-Yugoslav handball players in recent months, such as his former teammate and namesake Zlatko Portner.