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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Katanec the miracle-maker
Srecko Katanec
Katanec masterminded Slovenia's World Cup debut
Srecko Katanec may have spent the majority of his playing days in a Yugoslavian shirt, but he has used his mercurial talent as a coach to steer his nation Slovenia to its first World Cup.

Considering Slovenia has a population of just 1.9 million, Katanec's feat since becoming team manager in 1998 cannot be overemphasized.

His achievement is made all the more impressive by the fact that the former Yugoslav republic only gained its independence 11 years ago.

Katanec has shown he has a talent for getting the best out of the limited players at his disposal.

Katanec factfile
PERSONAL
Born: 07/07/1963
Birthplace: Ljubljana, Slovenia

PLAYING CAREER
Yugoslav caps: 31 (5 goals)
Slovenia caps: 5 (1 goal)

COACHING
1996: Becomes Slovenian Under-21 coach
1997: Brief spell as NK Gorica coach
1998: Takes over at national team coach

At just 38 years old, the national coach is worldly-wise beyond his years, which must be in part due to his travels as a footballer.

In his playing days, only briefly did he ply his trade within the region of his birth, for Olimpija Ljubljiana.

In the mid-1980s, he had spells with clubs in Croatia and Serbia - then all part of the Yugoslav federation - before crossing the border in 1988 to join German club VfB Stuttgart.

The following season he went on to play for Italian giants Sampdoria, where he remained for five seasons.

His honours there included the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1990 and the league championship the following year.

At the international level, he represented the Yugoslav federation on 31 occasions and was his country's sole representative in Yugoslavia's 1990 World Cup squad.

Cross-over to coaching

His debut for newly-independent Slovenia came in February 1994 when he captained the side to a 1-0 win over Georgia in Malta.

In his five appearances for Slovenia, Katanec never played on a losing side and scored his only goal in a 1-0 victory over Hungary.

Coming to the end of his footballing career, Katanec returned home from his years abroad, initially as coach of the national under-21 squad in 1996.

A brief stint in charge of league side Gorica followed between 1997-98 but, after Slovenia had failed to reach the World Cup finals, Katanec stepped up to the national side.

As a coach, he has only enhanced his legendary reputation, allowing the Slovenes to consistently punch above their weight.

Last year, Katanec claimed that his side were "lucky" to edge out their formidable Romanian opponents in the qualifying play-offs for this 2002 World Cup.

But no-one can deny that Slovenia would have never made it without him.

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SPAIN 3 +5 9
PARAGUAY 3 0 4
SOUTH AFRICA 3 0 4
SLOVENIA 3 -5 0

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