Like many water polo players, Zdravko Hebel started as a swimmer, winning the 1961 Yugoslav junior championship in the 200 metre breaststroke. He then turned to water polo, playing from 1962-77 with Mladost. With Mladost he won European titles in 1967-69 and 1971, and the 1976 Cup of the Winner and the European Supercup. He won Yugoslavian titles in 1962, 1964, 1967, and 1969-71. Hebel earned 68 caps with the Yugoslav national team from 1965-69, winning an Olympic gold medal in 1968 and the 1967 Mediterranean Games title.
Hebel later turned to sports administration. He served as President of the Zagreb Sports Association from 1991-2000, and was vice-president of the Croatian Olympic Committee also from 1991-2000. He was President of the Association of Croatian Water Polo judges from 1993-95, and President of the Croatian Water Polo Association in 1995 and in 1999-2000. From 2000-02, Hebel served as President of the Croatian Olympic Committee.