As a companion piece to our long-form pieces about Partizan Belgrade from their 1960s European Cup Final days, we thought it appropriate to follow-up with an Eleven post dedicated to the crno-beli (black-whites). We asked Partizan fan and lively Twitter presence Dusan Mihajilovic (@DusanMih) to put together his best all-time Partizan team and he came up with the following attack-minded line-up for us.
1 – Ivan Ćurković (1964-72, 427 apps / 0 goals) One of the best Yugoslav goalkeepers of all time. A lack of trophy success during his time at Partizan was more than compensated for when he moved west to Saint-Etienne. Ćurković became a legendary figure during his 9 years with the French club and was a mainstay of the powerful side that reached the 1976 European Cup Final.
2 – Zoran Mirković (1993-96 & 2004-06, 253 apps/6 goals) One of the last true ‘hard men’ of the Serbian game. Adored by fans for always giving everything for the Partizan shirt and even played his final season for the club without a contract. Between his two spells with Partizan, Mirkovic enjoyed decent spells abroad at Atalanta, Juventus and Fenerbahce.
3 – Ivan Golac (1968-78, 352/23) A hard-working and committed local lad, a true gentleman and much respected club legend – both as Partizan player and later manager. Golac became one of the earliest Eastern European exports to the UK when he joined Southampton.
4 – Saša Ilić (1996- present, 697/229) The perennial team captain who joined the club at the age of 11, made his senior debut in 1996 and is still going strong 18 years later. One of the most skilful players ever to wear the black and white shirt.
5 – Velibor Vasović (1958-63 & 1964-66, 367/74) One of the leaders of the ‘Partizan Babies’ generation which narrowly lost the European Cup final to Real Madrid in 1966. An elegant sweeper who later moved to Ajax and in the latter stages of his career captained the Dutch side to their first European Cup win. The only person to both play for and manage both the Belgrade giants.
6 – Miloš Milutinović (1952-58, 213/231) One of the three Milutinović brothers and perhaps the most gifted winger in Yugoslav football history. Scored two goals in the first-ever European Cup fixture for Partizan against Sporting Lisbon.
7 – Mateja Kežman (1998-2000, 121/65) A Partizan fan as a boy who progressed to the first team and impressed for a couple of seasons before moving abroad. Kezman scored fewer goals than other great Partizan forwards like Galić, Valok or Milošević, but his record of scoring in each of his five Belgrade derby appearances made him a particular club favourite.
8 – Predrag Mijatović (1989-93, 222/131) Captain of the last brilliant Yugoslav generation which (unfortunately) never had a real chance to demonstrate its talent on the international stage. Enjoyed a stellar career in Spain and Italy culminating with scoring the decisive goal in Real Madrid’s 1998 Champions League win.
9 – Stjepan Bobek (1945-59, 478/425) The most prolific Yugoslav striker of all time and the founder of the ‘Partizan Babies’ generation. Bobek left an inimitable legacy of attacking football and a focus on developing great youth talent at the club.
10 – Momčilo Vukotić (1968-78 & 1979-84, 791/339) A local boy, a club icon and the most capped Partizan player of all time. He was the club’s figurehead and one of the few positives during the challenging 1970s when Partizan was in decline. Incumbent director of the Partizan youth academy today.
11 – Dragan Mance (1980-85, 279/174) Legendary striker revered in Yugoslavia before his tragic death in a car crash at the age of 23. His premature passing meant his reputation did not have the chance to spread internationally as it would surely have. A great character and a real crowd favourite who scored some memorable goals (v Red Star, Dinamo Zagreb, QPR). One of the streets close to the Partizan stadium is named in his honour.