Role model Milosevic hangs up international boots

November 6, 2008

When Savo Milosevic joined Partizan Belgrade from little known Bosnian outfit Radnik Bijeljina as a 19-year old in 1992, few people imagined he would become the most capped Yugoslav player with 101 international appearances to his name.

Later this month, Milosevic will draw a curtain on his international career when Serbia entertain neighbours Bulgaria in a friendly in Belgrade. Ironically, it will be his only appearance for Serbia as he has not played for his country since it became an independent nation after the 2006 World Cup.

Never acclaimed as one of the game’s most talented strikers, Milosevic still earned his place at the top level through a work ethic which was second to none.

After scoring 74 goals in 98 appearances for Partizan, he enjoyed an average three-year spell at Aston Villa during which he found the back of the net 29 times in 91 games and won the English League Cup in 1996.

He was one of the few Serbian athletes who joined mass protests against late Serbian leader and namesake Slobodan Milosevic, who was toppled in October 2000 and later extradited to The Hague to face war crimes charges.

Milosevic, the footballer, steered Yugoslavia to the Euro 2000 quarter-finals and finished as the tournament’s joint top scorer with five goals before embarking on a largely successful seven-year stint in Spain, where he played for Zaragoza, Espanyol, Celta Vigo and Osasuna.

Last weekend, he put the icing on the cake when he scored the late winning goal in Rubin Kazan’s 2-1 win at Saturn Ramenskoye that handed the unfancied Russian outfit their first league title with three games to spare.

Milosevic hinted it might have been his last game in club football too and if so, the Bulgaria friendly will provide a fitting farewell to a player worthy of being a role model to many of his more heralded contemporaries.

PHOTO: Savo Milosevic, then playing for Serbia and Montengro, looks at a ball during a World Cup training session in Billerbeck June 9, 2006. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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