Milivoj Bebic (YUG)
2013 Honor Water Polo Player
At the age of ten, Milivoj Bebic joined the Pošk water polo FOR THE RECORD: 1980 OLYMPIC GAMES: silver; 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; FINA WATER POLO PLAYER OF THE YEAR: 1982, 1984, 1985; 1982 FINA CUP: gold; 1984 FINA CUP: gold; 1984 EUROPEAN SUPER CUP: gold; 1983 MEDITERRANIAN CUP: gold; 1985 MEDITERRIANIAN CUP: gold; 1980 YUGOSLAVIAN CUP: gold; 1983 YUGOSLAVIAN CUP: gold; AWARDED ORDER OF CROATIA DANICA AS CROATIA’S BEST ATHLETE: 1999, 2000.
At the age of ten, Milivoj Bebic joined the Pošk water polo club. A prodigy almost from the start, he was asked to join the Yugoslavian national team at the age of 17. It was playing with experienced veterans, like Hall of Famer Ratko Rudic and playing under the legendary coach, Vahlo Orlic, father of the modern Yugoslavian water polo system and Miro Circovic, that Bebić developed the skills that made him one of the greatest offensive water polo players of all time.
From 1979 to 1985 none was better than Milivoj. He helped the Yugoslavian national team and Pošk reach the top of the podium in nearly every tournament they entered. In 1980, at the Moscow Olympics, Yugoslavia won the silver, losing to the Soviet Union by a single goal in the decisive game of the round-robin tournament. Four years later in Los Angeles, Yugoslavia again faced the home team in the deciding match and it looked like history would favor the home team once again, as the Americans held a five to three lead heading into the fourth quarter. But after Deni Lusic brought Yugoslavia to within one, it was Bebic’s goal with three minutes three seconds that tied the score and allowed Yugoslavia to win the gold medal on the basis of Yugoslavia’s better goal differential in the round-robin tournament.
During his career on the Yugoslavian national team, Bebic scored a record 620 goals in just 300 games and in 1982-1984, he was judged by “International Swimming” and “Water Polo Magazine” as the best player in the world. In 1991, he made history by becoming the first water polo player to sign a pro contract in excess of one million Deutsche Mark.
After his competition years, he coached water polo for Club Pošk and in 1996, he was appointed director, guiding the team in winning Croatian team cups and national championships. He was also instrumental in reviving women’s water polo in his country.
He remains an executive in Croatian water polo and is a member of the LEN Technical Water Polo Committee. He has received the highest recognition in Yugoslavia, the “Zlatan Jakuka” and the Medal of Order “Danica Hrvatska” from the President of Croatia.