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SLO - Daneu reflects on amazing Hall of Fame career [part I]

LJUBLJANA (FIBA Hall of Fame) - Not many players in basketball history have a story to tell like Ivo Daneu, a true legend in the game who this summer was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in Alcobendas, Spain - View Hall of Fame Profile -.

Daneu, who turned 70 this year, played for Branik Maribor from 1949 to 1956, and then Olimpija Ljubljana until 1970.

The 1.84m star made headlines with the former Yugoslavia national team, capturing eight Olympic, world and European championship medals.

In 1967, Daneu was voted most valuable player of the FIBA World Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay, after Yugoslavia's silver-medal success.

Yet with all of his achievements, Danieu is humble. He wonders, for example, why he was accepted into the FIBA Hall of Fame and why his shirt with the number 13 was retired on November 7, prior to Union Olimpija's Euroleague game against CSKA Moscow.

Union Olimpija then christened the moment by upsetting CSKA.

Daneu, fresh after a match of tennis with some friends, spoke to Luka Maselj on behalf of FIBA.

Here is Part I of an interview with Ivo Daneu.

FIBA: Mr. Daneu, it looks like you can't live without sport …

Daneu: "True. Until last year, I still went skiing, but I don't know if I'll be able to go this year, as I have some problems with my hips. My spine is also not in a very good condition, but I am determined to play tennis as long as possible. If the doctors knew it, they would surely be very upset (laughter). In the summer, I also do a lot of cycling and hiking. Too bad I can't play basketball anymore. At this age, it's practically impossible. And my wrist is in a bad shape, too."

FIBA: You were welcomed into the FIBA Hall of Fame and recognised as one of basketball's greatest players some time ago. This month, Union Olimpija also retired your number - the first in their history. What does all of this recognition mean to you?

Daneu: "(Laughing again) It's nice of them. In many cases, people get them just before they die or even after that, but I hope I still have 10 or 15 years to live. To tell the truth, I don't even think about that. Back to the question: the acknowledgments I am getting don't only belong to me, but also to all the players I played with during my career. Without the help of teammates, it is impossible to be successful in basketball."

FIBA: How did it happen? How did you come in contact with basketball?

Daneu: "After World War Two, my mother - my father died in 1949 - was left alone with four children. We didn't have much. No TV, no cinema, no money. At that time, sport was our only entertainment. We went smimming a lot and we also liked to watch basketball. At first, I only went there as a spectator, but soon I started playing it myself."

FIBA: You moved from Maribor to Ljubljana as a very young player and stayed connected with the city from there on. You even became a world champion there in 1970. Do you regard that as the biggest achievement of your career?

Daneu: "As I've said many times, the medal that means the most to me is the one from the European Championship in Belgrade, 1961, as it was my first. The silver medal from the World Championship in Rio de Janeiro is also very special. I was also MVP of the World Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1967, when we also finished second. We also shouldn't forget the olympic medal I won. The fact that I became world champion at home in Ljubljana just before I ended my basketball career was in one way a very lucky thing. I was thinking of retiring from the sport two years before, because I've started going to work in 1960 and it was hard combining it all. We were not professional basketball players at that time. We received very little money back then. I remember getting the first real money in 1968, when Vinko Jelovac joined Olimpija."

FIBA: Where did you play at that time?

Daneu: "Tivoli, which still stands today, was built for the 1970 World Championship. Before that, we played a lot outside, which is unimaginable today. Against Lokomotiva Zagreb, I remember that there were nine thousand people watching our game in an open arena. The situation was similar when we played Real Madrid in 1964." 

Part II