In 2004, Velimir Zajec moved to Portsmouth to take up a position as executive director.
He took over as temporary team manager following the resignation of Harry Redknapp in November 2004 and was confirmed as the new manager on 21 December 2004.
Zajec began his career at Dinamo Zagreb in 1974 aged 18. During 10 years at the club he helped them to two domestic cup wins, as well as the league title, their first title honour in 24 years. He then transferred to Greek club Panathinaikos, for whom he was tremendously successful, and played over 100 games.
His performances at club level had seen Zajec capped by Yugoslavia, whom he represented 40 times, many as captain.
Following retirement he spent two years (1989-1991) as 'Director of Football' at former club Dinamo Zagreb, before returning to Panathinaikos to run their academy. Before long he was promoted to head coach of the club. After a period he again returned to Zagreb, this time as head coach, before moving once more back to Panathinaikos in 2002 to become 'Director of Football'.
In 2004, he moved to English club Portsmouth F.C. to take up a position as executive director. He took over as temporary team manager following the resignation of Harry Redknapp in November 2004. Five months later he reverted to his intended director's role, following the arrival of Alain Perrin. He resigned from his position at Fratton Park on October 10, 2005 due to ill health. Zajec is thought to be suffering from a motor neurone disease.
He is referred by Panathinaikos fans as the "Rabbit".