Coach Obradovic leaves Fenerbahçe for ‘one-year timeout’
“I took one of my hardest decisions in life with my family,” Obradovic, the winningest head coach in European basketball history, said in a statement late on June 23.
“In this moment, I have made the decision to take a timeout for one year.”
Obradovic met club executives including President Ali Koç last week in Istanbul to plan the new season and the coach on June 19 returned to his country Serbia to make his final decision after talking with his family.
“It was an honor and pleasure to be a member of a big club like Fenerbahçe. This is a new beginning for Fener and not the end and I am sure that the fans will for sure continue to support the club and that they will celebrate again great sportive moments like we did before,” Obradovic said.
The Serbiajn coach said he was thankful to the club administration, his colleagues, and especially the players and the fans.
“A big thanks to all players that I worked with in the last seven years,” he said.
“They are the most important ones that performed those outstanding results. Special thanks to all without whom this job makes no sense, the fans. They have been showing us endless support and love in every moment during those wonderful seven years. There were so many moments that they gave us that I will never forget in my life.”
Fenerbahçe said that the club respected Obradovic’s decision, calling him as a “club legend” for his achievements at the club.
“We accept this sad decision with respect to Zeljko Obradovic who with the joining of the Fenerbahçe family in the 2013-2014 season and during the whole period of is duty, most importantly with the Euroleague championship won in 2017, has accomplished numerous successes and has written his name in golden letters into the history of our club,” the club said in a statement.
“Zeljko Obradovic, as the legend of Fenerbahçe with all of the successes he has won and the happiness beyond imagination he has let us experience, will always continue to be part of our family.”
Obradovic, 60, guided Fenerbahçe to five consecutive Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four berths from 2015 to 2019, to three consecutive championship games from 2016 to 2018, and to a historic Euroleague title in 2017 at the Final Four in Istanbul.
It was the first Euroleague title for any Turkish club in basketball history, and the unprecedented ninth for Obradovic at the top of European basketball, more than any other player or coach.
Under Obradovic, Fenerbahce Beko also claimed four Turkish league titles, in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Obradovic is the only coach to lead six different teams to the Final Four: Partizan, Joventut, Real, Benetton Treviso, Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce. He won the Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year award in 2007, 2011 and 2017, and was chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Contributors to European club basketball in 2008.
He has lifted 16 league titles and 11 domestic cups, the latest being the 2020 Turkish Cup with Fenerbahçe.