ROBBIE Zabica, WA’s greatest goalkeeper, has chalked up a remarkable hat-trick of honours.
The 52-year-old was recently inducted into the Adelaide City Hall of Fame. This follows his induction into the Football Hall of Fame WA in 2008 and his inclusion in the Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Adelaide club flew Zabica over to the South Australian capital to be part of their 70th anniversary celebrations.
The Zebras, founded by Italian migrants in 1946 and original called Juventus after the Italian super club, stepped down from national competition in 2004 and now compete in the NPL South Australia league.
But they had much to celebrate on their anniversary, having won the old National Soccer League title three times – in 1986, 1992 and 1994.
Zabica, who joined City from Stirling Macedonia in 1988, was a key part of the title-winning sides in 1992 and 1994. Most of the players from those squads were honoured on the night at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
Another WA keeper, Jason Petkovic, who was to succeed Zabica as the Zebra’s first choice, was also in the 1994 squad, as were Damian Mori and Brad Hassell, who later went on to play for Perth Glory.
Zabica played what was a then NSL record of 170 consecutive games for Adelaide City and was awarded the competition’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 1992.
He gained his first Australia cap in 1990 against Moscow Torpedo and made a total of 42 appearances – 27 of which were ‘A’ internationals – for his country, including the 1994 World Cup qualifiers and a dramatic play-off against Argentina, facing the threat of Diego Maradona.
A serious knee injury forced his international retirement in 1995 but he returned to club football in 1996 with Spearwood Dalmatinac. He also wore the colours of Perth Glory, English side Bradford City, Cockburn City, Bayswater, Inglewood United and Fremantle City before retiring.
Zabica made six appearances for the State and was named the State League’s Goalkeeper of the Year on four occasions.
After being inducted into WA’s Hall of Champions in 2008 he was elevated to the Hall of Legends in 2012.