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Zdeněk Zeman
Zdenek Zeman.JPG
Personal information
Full name Zdeněk Zeman
Date of birth March 12, 1947 (1947-03-12) (age 62)
Place of birth    Prague, Czechoslovakia
Teams managed
Palermo youth squad
AS Roma
Fenerbahçe SK
SSC Napoli
Red Star Belgrade

* Appearances (Goals)

Zdeněk Zeman (born March 12, 1947 in Prague) is a Czech-Italian football coach. He has managed numerous different teams, mostly in Italian football, over the years.



Son of a medician and a housewife, Zeman grew up in Prague with a strong passion for sport, passed on by his uncle Čestmír Vycpálek, former Juventus player and then coach. In 1968 Zeman went to Palermo to visit his uncle, but exactly during that period his country was invaded by the USSR troops, so he decided to stay in Italy. He obtained Italian citizenship in 1975.

His first coaching experiences were for amateur football teams from Palermo neighborhood (Cinisi, Bacigalupo, Carini, Misilmeri, Esacalza). In 1974, thanks to his uncle's aid, he begins his first notable experience, for the Palermo Calcio youth team, which ends in 1983.

In 1975 he graduated with honours at the ISEF of Palermo (a sports school) with a dissertation about sports medicine. In 1979 he finally obtained the patentino (a kind of license for coaching football at the professional level) at the Coverciano's school for football coaches.

His first opportunity as professional head coach came from Licata, a small-medium city in the province of Agrigento, where he won Serie C2 with a team mainly composed of youngsters. In 1986, he then left Licata in order to join Foggia Calcio of Serie C1, but he was sacked before the end of the championship. In 1987 he became coach for Parma of Serie B, but was fired after just seven matches. In 1988 he returned to Sicily as coach of Messina, classified at the 8th place for the end of the season, also thanks to the goals of Salvatore Schillaci.

In 1989 the Foggia chairman Pasquale Casillo, repented of having fired him a few years before, signs on Zeman again. It was to be the beginning of the miracle Foggia, also known as Zemanlandia (after Zeman himself), a team of, in those days, unknown players; amongst them, Giuseppe Signori and Francesco Baiano who regularly punched above their weight in the league. In two years the team got promoted to top-level Serie A.

The first appearances of Foggia in Serie A are still quite unimaginable, with a team considered as absolutely weak verging on the UEFA Cup qualification for three consecutive years. This was achieved playing an impressive, attacking style of play, with the 4-3-3 module a clear trademark of Zdeněk Zeman's football views. During those years at Foggia, players like Roberto Rambaudi, Luigi di Biagio, Igor Shalimov, José Antonio Chamot, Dan Petrescu and Igor Kolyvanov came through.

In 1994, Zeman left Foggia for the greater challenge of Lazio, bringing the Biancocelesti to a 2nd and a 3rd place, before being fired in January 1997. He is credited with launching the career of Alessandro Nesta whilst managing Lazio, giving the young defender many first team opportunities. In the next season, Zeman decided to stay in Rome, becoming the coach of AS Roma and the burgeoning talent of Francesco Totti.

After a good fourth place with some sparkling play, Zeman launched allegations about the doping issue, especially accusing Juventus and players like Gianluca Vialli and Alessandro Del Piero of using steroids in July 1998. His allegations were later found to be completely false by the international Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland[1] In the following 1998/1999 season he reached a fifth place finish with AS Roma, but was replaced by Fabio Capello during the summer of 1999.

His next coaching adventures, for Fenerbahçe SK and SSC Napoli, were not lucky; weighing of Zeman's coaching abilities quickly lost stock, leaving him unable to find a team willing to hire him. After three Serie B years at Salernitana Sport (2 years, a 6th place, and a dismissal), and U.S. Avellino (second-last placed, with a young Vitali Kutuzov on team), in 2004 Serie A team Lecce gambled on him. Zeman, who had one of the youngest Serie A rosters as his disposal, answered with a good season, leading the team to a mid-table position giving talented youngsters like Valeri Bojinov and Mirko Vučinić. At the end of the season, Zeman resigned. After nine months without a team, Zeman was appointed on March 5, 2006 as new coach of Brescia, taking in his first time ever a team in the half-season. However, Brescia, that was third-placed when Zeman was called, suffered a heavy falling down in terms of results, and the team wasn't either able to maintain a place in the promotion playoffs, with 8 points in 11 matches. After the end of the season, Zeman resigned from Brescia, criticizing his players for not having accepted his figure.

On June 21, 2006, Zeman returned to Lecce, signing a one-year contract with the giallorossi, which relegated to Serie B in 2005/2006. Because of poor result, he was then fired on December 24 and replaced by Giuseppe Papadopulo.

On June 17, 2008 Red Star Belgrade unveiled Zeman as their new head coach.[2] However, after only five competitive games as Red Star's head coach, on September 6, 2008 Zeman was sacked because of catastrophic results in Serbian League and UEFA Cup. During Zeman's management, Red Star haven't managed to score in three matches of the domestic league and club found themselves on the bottom of the table for the first time in 24 years. Red Star were also eliminated in the qualifying round of the UEFA Cup by APOEL F.C. from Cyprus. [3]


The 4-3-3 football scheme

Zdeněk Zeman is probably the strongest advocate and forerunner in Italy for the 4-3-3 tactic, defined by him as "geometry", and also for a football philosophy clearly based on the attacking side, the offside, and zone marking. His teams are well-known for their ability to score goals, but also for the corresponding tendency to be scored on. In fact, during the 2004/2005 season his Lecce team captured the hearts of many neutrals with their cavalier approach to the game, specificially against the might of Juventus and the Milanese teams.

His coaching techniques, especially in regards to training (a field for which he has a particular interest), are also proverbial for their effort and diligence.

Zeman is also celebrated for his insistence on fair play and respect for his opponents, and for his long-time battles against doping and everything that soils, in any way, a fair football culture.

His appeal has stretched outside the football world, with singer/songwriter (and well-known AS Roma fan) Antonello Venditti, dedicating a song called La coscienza di Zeman (Zeman's conscience) to him. Zeman was also the "guru" who inspired the character Frengo by Italian comedian Antonio Albanese.


External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Zdenek Zeman (Prague, Czech Republic, 12 March 1947), Czech-Italian football coach


  • It is untrue that I do not like to win: I like to win respecting the rules.
  • Football must go out from pharmacies.
  • It happens rarely to hear a lie from me. Because of this, I feel myself alone. It's a world, our one, where many lies are told.
  • There's nothing bad to be last-placed, if you are with dignity.
  • The great popularity of football it is not result of pharmacies or financial bureaues, but of the fact that on every square, on every corner of the world there is a child who plays and has fun with a ball on his feet.
  • Nowadays, football is more and more an industry, and less and less a game.
  • There's no victory, either a championship or a cup, which is comparable to a boy's health.
  • It doesn't matter how long you run, but where and why you run.
  • Sometimes the losers taught more than winners. I think I have given something more and different to people.
  • I will never change my modules and my training methods. In order to cover the pitch, there does not exists a module better than 4-3-3.

External links

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