Over the years, the Serbian national team – in one of its various guises – have shown themselves to be a highly technical and hard-working side. Despite their failure to win any honors of note, they’ve produced some seriously top-quality players over the years.
Here we look at five legends of Serbia.
5. Sinisa Mihajlovic
We won’t go into Mihajlovic’s managerial career with our focus instead of poured on the player he once was. He won 63 caps for his country, which is mighty impressive, but spent most of his career in Italy playing for various sides, including Lazio and Inter Milan.
In terms of playing style, Mihajlovic had a bit of everything you’d want. He tended to ‘rough it up,’ but once on the ball, despite playing at the back, the guy was a magician with an ability to unlock defenses.
To top his game off, Mihajlovic also boasts an impressive record (shared with Andrea Pirlo) in Serie A, which has seen him net more free kicks than anyone else.
Currently, Mihajlovic is coaching Bologna and also fighting a battle against Leukaemia. We wish Sinisa all the best and speedy recoveries.
4. Dejan Stankovic
Stankovic started his career with Red Star Belgrade – where he looks set to lead them to the league title in his first year as manager – but truly made his name in Italy where he, like Mihajlovic, played for Lazio and then Inter. ‘Deki’ could play anywhere in the midfield but was at his best in a central attacking role where his intricate passing, creativity, and ability to score from a distance were best utilized.
He was the ultimate team player though and never shirked his defensive responsibilities and that selflessness – as well as all-round leadership skills – saw him named skipper of the national team for four years and has also had the honor of being awarded the Serbian Player of the Year accolade.
Stankovic also holds a unique record of being the only player in the history of world soccer to represent three nations at a World Cup – Yugoslavia, Serbia & Montenegro, and Serbia.
3. Nemanja Vidic
At club level, Vidic formed arguably one of the best center-back pairings ever seen with Rio Ferdinand at his side for Manchester United. Vidic’s role in that team – and every other party to be fair – was to be the rock.
Nemanja’s personality and the way he plays can be compared with a linesman in the NFL. They are aggressive, and they play with their heart to protect QB, just like Nemanja plays to protect his net from the opponent shoots. It would be interesting to see Nemanja play BetAmerica.com.
He won the league and cup double with Red Star Belgrade and, with United added a total of nine significant honors to his haul (5 leagues, 3 Cups, and a Champions League). On top of that, he served the national side for nine years, racking up 56 caps and scooped the player of the year award twice, in 2005 and 2008.
2. Blagoje Marjanovic
‘Mosa’ as he was affectionately known as the first actual international for Serbia, and boy was he memorable. In total, he made 58 appearances for Yugoslavia and netted 37 goals giving him the best scoring ratio the country has ever seen. He was a hotshot at club level too, and during his career with BSK Beograd – where he won five championship titles – he bagged an unbelievable 575 in 566.
His ability to score goals was underpinned by two things, a natural gift for finishing but, perhaps more crucially, a movement that made him almost unmarkable.
1. Branislav Ivanovic
Of course, we couldn’t leave out the man who has managed to pull on the national strip more times than anyone else. Ivanovic has won 106 caps, and each time he plays in a manner that shows his love and passion for the nation.
Ivanovic, who currently plays for Zenit St Petersburg, has enough versatility to play anywhere across the backline without a dip in performance, which is a testament not only to his quality but his mentality too – and he often chipped in with a crucial goal or two as well.
On a domestic front, Ivanovic is best known for his nine-year stay with Chelsea, where he won three leagues, four English cups, and both the European competitions. His displays across the 2012 and 2013 campaigns were so impressive that he won back to back player of the year awards, and we’re comfortable saying he’s going to be a tough man to move from our top spot.
There you have it, five players who could have brought Serbia glory had their peak years overlapped. Nonetheless, we’re a fortunate bunch to have witnessed such greatness on the soccer pitch.