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Best Serbian footballers of all time

Thursday26 November 2020 | 16:30
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In this feature, we are going to check out a list of the best Serbian footballers of all time.

Sports take important part in Serbian community. We can name football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, handball and water polo as the most popular sports in Serbia, with football being number 1 on the list. Although the oldest club in Serbia is FK Backa 1901, but their most famous and successful clubs are 

Red Star Belgrade

and

Partizan

.

Serbia national football team

might not be as celebrated as some other famous European football teams, but undoubtedly, they have achieved notable honors, and like any other national team, they have their own highlights, and of course, indelible players, who are acknowledged as the

best Serbian footballers of all time

.

Best Serbian footballers of all time

Who are

best Serbian soccer players ever

? What history they have been through? What player has scored the most goals and which one holds the record for the most capped player in Serbia national team? If you look for any answers, stay tuned!

Nemanja Matic

  • Date of birth:

    1 August 1988

  • Height:

    1.94 m

  • Position:

    Defensive midfielder

  • National team cap:

    48

It has been said so many times, that playing in

Premier League

is a rough ride, let alone doing it as a defensive midfielder, and that’s what

Nemanja Matic

 does.

Matic

's professional senior career began in 2005, with FK Kolubara from Serbia. Two years later he joined a Slovak football club called Kosice before he signed with

Chelsea

in 2009. His presence in London didn’t end up well, and he transferred to Vitesse in

Eredivisie

on loan.

Between the years 2011 and 2014 he played for

Benfica

, and then he returned to Chelsea for second time, and this time was different, he spent three successful years with The Blues, and became a well-respected player in

Premier League

. in 2017 the Serbian star got spotted by The Red Devils, and moved to Old Trafford under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

As for Matić’s international career, he appeared in 48 matches, scoring 2 goals, between 2008 to 2019. In August 2019, he announced his retirement from national football.

Nemanja Matic currently plays for

Man United

and there is no doubt that he is entitled to be one of the

best Serbian footballers of all time

.

Exclusive SPORTMOB video

Sinisa Mihajlovic

  • Date of birth:

    20 February 1969

  • Height:

    1.85 m

  • Position:

    Defender

  • National team cap:

    63

Have you ever considered who has scored most goals through free-kicks in

Serie A

? you might think of names such as Alessandro Del Piero, Zinedine Zidane, Andrea Pirlo, or Francesco Totti. As a matter of fact, none of it is true! The true answer is Sinisa Mihajlovic. The Serbian defender holds the record for most goals scored from a free-kick in Serie A with 28 goals.

Unlike any other fellow countryman of his, Mihajlovic’s career didn’t begin with a Serbian club, but a Croatian one called HNK Borovo. This collaboration started in 1986 and ended in 1988, with him being transferred to FK Vojvodina in Serbia.

After two successful year, he moved to Belgrade to sign a contract with the most famous Serbian club,

Red Star Belgrade

. He played two years for the Red Star before his career takes its big turn with him transferring to Italy in order to join with the wolves of Roma.

Mihajlovic’s era in Italy’s top tier lasted fourteen years, playing for As Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio, and Inter Milan, scoring 37 goals overall.

The free-kick master of Serbia has also had a successful international career. He played 63 matches, scoring 10 goals within the ten years of his attendance from 1993 until 2003.

Mihajlovic’s name is definitely amongst the

best Serbian footballers of all time.

Velibor Vasovic

  • Date of birth:

    3 October 1939

  • Height:

    1.80 m

  • Position:

    Defender

  • National team cap:

    32

Another defender, but a little older in time. Velibor Vasovic is one of 

Serbia's Most Legendary Footballers ever

, A sweeper and a midfielder. His club career began with a Serbian football club called Partizan in 1958, at the age of eighteen.

After playing for Partizan for five years, Vasović made a controversial move by transferring to the old-time rival of his team, Red Star Belgrade.

As you may have guessed, the fans didn’t like it at all, actually he was getting so many letters, some of which were threatening to kill the player. After six months, he decided to return to his ex-team, even though his homecoming did not end up with a warm welcoming from both fans and players.

In 1966 Vasovic moved to the Netherlands to sign a contract with

Ajax Amsterdam

. He managed to became the first foreign player to be the captain of the Dutch giant’s history.

As regards to his national career, the famous defender appeared in 32 matches in Yugoslavia national team from 1961 until 1966, and he scored 2 goals.

Even though Vasovic’s career was short (13 professional seasons), he deserves a spot amongst the best Serbian footballers of all time.

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Dragan Stojkovic

  • Date of birth:

    3 March 1965

  • Height:

    1.74 m

  • Position:

    Midfielder

  • National team cap:

    84

Dragan Stojkovic is one of the

most famous Serbian footballers in history

. His long-established career began in 1981 when he joined the club “FK Radnicki Nis” He mostly played as a midfielder and occasionally as a forward.

After five years, he got spotted by Red Star Belgrade managers, and joined the famous club. He accompanied Red Star for four years, playing 120 matches and scoring 54 goals until he moved to France to sign a contract with

Olympique de Marseille

.

The Serbian star’s professional period in France was not as impressive as it used to be back in Serbia. In the first season, he underwent a knee surgery due to the rough injury he got. Afterward he transferred to

Hellas Verona

, the Italian club.

Having more injuries and disciplinary problems, his journey in Italy did not turn out so well. He went back to Marseille and won the

UEFA Champions League

in 1992-1993 season. although, he missed the final due to his injury.

In 1994 Stojkovic received an offer from a Japanese team called Nagoya Grampus Eight and moved to Japan to sign a contract with them. The Serbian midfielder remained in Nagoya Grampus Eight for seven years, appearing in 184 games and scoring 57 goals. He became popular among the fans, especially after he was named J-League MVP for the 1995 season.

The player’s international career lasted for 18 years. Playing in 84 games and scoring 15 goals is great enough to make him as one of the best Serbian footballers of all time.

Dragan Stojkovic retired in 2001 and became a successful coach afterward.

Aleksandar Kolarov

  • Date of birth:

    10 November 1985

  • Height:

    1.87 m

  • Position:

    Defender

  • National team cap:

    94

Another Serbian defender who made his fortune, both in Serie A and Premier League. Kolarov started his career in 2004 with FK Cukaricki, a Serbian club based in Belgrad. Two years later he joined OFK Beograd, another club from the same city. Within a year his talent was spotted by the managers of Lazio.

In 2000, he moved to the Italian side for a €925,000 transfer fee. After three successful years he moved to England as regards to sign a contract with

Manchester City

. The transfer fee was reportedly £16 million.

Kolarov won two Premier League titles with Man City, between the years 2010 and 2017 until went back to Italy, but this time with Roma being interested signing with the Serbian star. Kolarov, who managed to name himself as one of the best Serbian footballers of all time, moved to Inter Milan in September 2020 with a reportedly one-year deal which can be extended for a further year.

Kolarov is number four on the list of most capped players in the history of Serbia national team, playing 94 games with 11 goals being scored. He was the representative of Serbia at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa as well as participating with his national team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The Serbian defender has received praises from players and coaches, including the famous Spanish coach Pep Guardiola who once said “On the left side Kolarov is really good for the passes to the other side, the passes inside”

The 35-year-old who currently plays for Inter managed to become one of the

Greatest Serbian Football players ever

before his gets retired.

Dejan Stankovic

  • Date of birth:

    11 September 1978

  • Height:

    1.81 m

  • Position:

    Midfielder

  • National team cap:

    103

Two-time Serbian player of the year, Dejan Stankovic is our next player as we look for famous Serbian footballers in history. The talented midfielder joined Red Star Belgrade in 1995 and his fulfillment in the pitch got him transferred to Serie A, joining

Lazio

. He appeared in 85 games, scoring 29 goals in his six years of attendance in Lazio.

In 2004 The star moved to another Italian huge club,

Inter Milan

. He played nine years for Nerazzurri, having played 230 games and scoring 29 goals.

Stankovic is the second most capped player in Serbia national team, playing 103 games with 15 goals scored. He played in three World Cups, and a UEFA Championship and he is known as the Serbian player with the most trophies having won, and without a doubt, his name is placed among  Serbia's most legendary footballers ever.

Branislav Ivanovic

  • Date of birth:

    22 February 1984

  • Height:

    1.85 m

  • Position:

    Defender

  • National team cap:

    105

Having played for Chelsea as a defender for nine years, between 2008-2017, and being the most capped player of Serbia international team’s history with 105 caps, Branislav Ivanovic is one of the famous Serbian footballers in history.

The current West Bromwich defender started his career in 2002 with FK Srem, which is his hometown club. Two years later he moved to OFK Beograd, another Serbian football club. In 2006, he transferred to the Russian Premier League and joined FC Lokomotiv Moscow.

Ivanovic’s career took another turn by signing a contract with The Blues of London in 2008. He had a fruitful journey with Chelsea. Wining nine important honors, including Premier League for three times, and the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, each one time, are the most celebrated highlights of his career.

Ivanovic accompanied his national team in two World Cups, within the years 2010 and 2018. And he was the captain of Serbia between 2012 to 2018. It’s not wrong if we consider him as one of the greatest Serbian football players ever.

Nemanja Vidic

  • Date of birth:

    21 October 1981

  • Height:

    1.90 m

  • Position:

    Defender

  • National team cap:

    56

It’s impossible for fans of Man United not to remember Nemanja Vidic. Another Serbian star whose name rose to fame in the same club as many other Serbian players did, Red Star Belgrade. His professional football career began in 2000 and four years later he made his way to join the famous Russian club, Spartak Moscow.

In December 2005, reportedly the most expensive transfer for a defender in Russian Premier League took place as Vidic joined The Red Devils squad. During the eight years of being in Old Trafford, he exhibited admirable performances with playing in 211 games and scoring 15 goals.

The Serbian centre-back is the winner of Premier League title (five times) and UEFA Champions League with Manchester United. After his golden era in Premier League, he joined Inter Milan and played in Giuseppe Meazza for two years until he announces his retirement in 2016.

Vidic participated in two World Cups for Serbia national team. His national career period began in 2002 and ended in 2011, playing in 56 games and scored 2 goals.

Sir Alex Ferguson once said: “How many centre-halves can you name who actually like defending? Vidic liked it. He loved the challenge of sticking his head in there. You could tell that the thrill of contesting those 50-50 balls animated him.”

There are many other Man United legends like Sir Bobby Charlton, Peter Schmeichel, and Michael Carrick who praised him as a fantastic player. Actually, the legendary Ryan Gigs appraised him as “the best defender I have ever played with”.

can you not put the name of a player like this on the list of best Serbian soccer players ever? We surely can’t.

Exclusive SPORTMOB video

Stjepan Bobek

  • Date of birth:

    3 December 1923

  • Height:

    (?)

  • Position:

    Forward

  • National team cap:

    63

Of course, if we would look for best Serbian footballers of all time, we can’t miss the player who scored most goals in Serbia national team history, that’s when Stjepan Bobek’s name comes up.

Bobek started off his professional football career in 1942 with Admira Wacker Modling, a club from Austria. One year later he moved to a Croatian club called HSK Gradanski, but he didn’t manage to stay with them more than a year either.

in 1945 the heads of the Serbian famous club Partizan showed interest signing him, and that’s when Bobek’s senior career took its big turn and this collaboration lingered for fourteen years, playing in 198 games and scoring 121 goals, Impressive!

The Serbian prosperous forward’s national career was as successful as his club career. During the ten years spent with Yugoslavia national team, Bobek appeared in 63 games and scored 38 goals. He participated in the 1950 World Cup, in Brazil, and Olympic Games, in London 1948.

Bobek retired as a player in 1959 and became a coach afterwards. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 86. But there is no doubt his name will remain as one of the most famous Serbian footballers in history.

Dragan Dzajic

  • Date of birth:

    30 May 1946

  • Height:

    1.74 m

  • Position:

    Left winger

  • National team cap:

    63

Considered by several football figures to be the greatest football player ever arose from former Yugoslavia. He is recognized as one of the most underrated players in European football history. Maybe if he would have played in another country, other than Yugoslavia, the history would have turned out differently for him.

Dzajic’s football adventure began with Red Star Belgrade in 1963, and finished in 1978 with him wearing the same club’s shirt. He only played for Bastia between 1975 to 1977 until he came back to Red Star to play for another season of which was his last season as a player. In 389 games he played for red

Red Star

, he scored 155 goals, which is a great stat for a footballer who plays as a left winger.

Džajić made his debut in Yugoslavia national team when he was 18. His national career lasted for 14 years, scoring 23 goals in 85 games. It’s hard for anyone to argue against him being one of the best Serbian footballers of all time.

We are sure there are other Serbian football players deserving to be included on the list of

best Serbian footballers of all time

, numbers of famous Serbian footballers in history, like Milan Galić, Savo Milošević, Aleksandar Tirnanić, and Serbian legendary goalkeeper, Vladimir Stojković, but we had to narrow it down to ten, and this was our list. 

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