Statement from Pro Recco on Ratko Rudic’s Retirement From Water Polo

Ratko Rudic and Maurizio Felugo. Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scarfi

Editor’s Note: Following an illustrious career in international water polo, Ratko Rudic—the only man in history to coach four Olympic gold water polo medalists—has officially retired from the sport. In a statement translated from Italian, Pro Recco President Maurizio Felugo and Biancocelesti legend Eraldo Pizzo paid tribute to the legendary coach. Rudic himself also spoke about his tenure with the sport’s most successful professional club.

pro-recco-logo“We are honored that Rudic has been the protagonist of our story! It was a great privilege to deal daily with a person of his substance,” President Felugo said. “In these two years he has been around the club, he has brought a winning mentality, competence, professionalism and work ethic.

“I greet you with regret for not being able to finish the season—but we will be forever grateful. The footprints [Rudic] left on our journey will remain indelible in the new structure built to return Pro Recco to top the world water polo.”

“We met a few days ago. I was moved and I think he was also,” said Pizzo. “[Rudic] said Recco will be in his heart always and that while here he has been very well received by all of us.

“It was a phrase, so to speak, but heartfelt, sincere. The fact that a man like him says such beautiful words towards our city and our club is a source of pride. I have only one regret: a fitting end of his career would be the Champions League final in Punta Sant’Anna. With the return to normal we will be happy to see him again in Recco.”

[Covid-19 Emergency Threatens Postponement of Champions League Final Eight Water Polo Tournament]

Statement from Ratko Rudic upon concluding his career at Pro Recco:

I accepted the assignment to the Pro Recco espousing the ideas of President Maurizio Felugo and an important project of water polo. In addition to the results and the improvement of the game, [we] would also help the promotion of our sport in Italy, in the world and the media, the approach and investment in young people, the creation of academies throughout Italy, the organization of the Champions League matches in different cities.

We have made great strides in all segments, but I missed a game, the semifinals of the Champions League, and the season ended without the desired result. I still carry within me a bitter taste of that challenge in Hannover.

In this new season we started even more motivated to recover what we had escaped. We have prepared a different program, focusing on the final part of the season and the Final Eight of the Champions League—[which] we have organized at home, in Recco, in the pool of Punta Sant’Anna.

Since the end of February 2020 we intensified training with the aim to arrive in the best shape for the tournament. When it came to a stop the activity, due to the pandemic, our dreams are gone.

September 15, 2019; Avery Aquatic Center, Palo Alto, California, USA; MWP: Pro Recco vs UCLA Exhibition Game; Pro Recco 2 Meter Francesco Di Fulvio; Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne

Pro Recco’s Francesco Di Fulvio, Swimming World 2019 top male polo player, was coached by Rudic  Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

The decision to end my career as a coach came before the outbreak of the emergency coronavirus, and I communicated [this] to President Felugo. I wanted to finish his career with a great result and am available to the company in another role to contribute to the realization of the project. Certainly with the pandemic, much has changed, the future is uncertain, and we’ll see how it will be organized the activity.

On this occasion I want to thank our patron, Gabriele Volpi, a big fan of water polo and the main supporter of Pro Recco. You have created a relationship of esteem and respect, which is mutual.

I have had a special relationship of trust and friendship [with] President Felugo had: his motivation and energy also helped the team maintain A high levels of commitment.

I thank all the players for their professional commitment, respect and approach to training: I will always treasure our good memories.

My technical staff—made up of professionals of the highest value, has been of tremendous assistance. This group was united and played an active role: I am grateful to them for their commitment.

I thank all Pro Recco employees who made it possible to conduct our business in the best way possible.

In conclusion, the period I spent in Recco will remain a positive memory. Here felt like my home. I want to greet all fans and people who were close to the company and to me personally: after this emergency I will be back in town to greet them with affection.

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