Branko Zebec

May 17, 1929 - Sep 26, 1988(59)

Keegan and the military helicopter

Why did Keegan, the best German soccer player, come to Zebec's training in a military helicopter?

Branko Zebec was known as an unyielding, harsh and authoritarian coach who wanted to make stars out of his players and who got the most out of them. That's why there was no room for excuses, idleness and arguments with him.

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One of the players he worked hard to discipline was Kevin Keegan, whom he coached in Hamburg. He was known as an irresponsible, but also a talented player. Kevin was fifteen minutes late for Zebec's first training session. When he entered the football field, he started apologizing: - Hi, sorry... - Zebec interrupted him in his apologies and immediately expressed his authority by saying: - We don't live from your "sorry", but from your football - and punished him with with a fine of five thousand marks. This motivated Kevin to start coming to Zebec's training sessions on time.

One day, after heavy snow fell in Hamburg, traffic was in chaos. The plows did not clear large amounts of snow in time, so the streets were completely jammed with cars. Most of the players then went to training on foot. Kevin was very afraid that he would be late. He didn't want to be "on top" of Zebec, and he didn't want to pay high fines again. He hired the military police and hired a helicopter from them. He flew to the stadium by helicopter. He arrived just a few minutes before the start of training, but on time. Zebec was dying of laughter because of such engagements of his defiant player.

During his farewell with the club, Keegan was presented with a model of a sailboat. He thanked for the gift and jokingly said: - I bought that sailboat myself by paying fines at Zebec. - Nevertheless, after his exceptional career, he often thanked Zebec, saying that he was his most favorite and best coach, the coach who made a player out of him.

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