Dragan Stojković (Serbian Cyrillic: Драган Стојковић, pronounced [drǎɡan stǒːjkoʋitɕ]; born 3 March 1965), also known under the nickname Piksi (Пикси), is a Serbian former footballer who played as a midfielder, and the current manager of the Serbia national team.
|President of the Football Association of Serbia and Montenegro (FSSCG)|
|Preceded by||Miljan Miljanić|
|Succeeded by||Tomislav Karadžić|
|Born||3 March 1965|
Niš, SFR Yugoslavia
Stojković was long time captain of the Yugoslavia national team and Red Star Belgrade, and is considered one of the best players in the history of Yugoslav and Serbian football. He starred for Yugoslavia at the 1990 FIFA World Cup (where he was named in the World Cup All-Star Team) and 1998 FIFA World Cup where he captained the team.
He is one of the five players to be awarded the title Star of the Red Star. He is widely considered to have never shown his true potential in Europe as injury prevented him from establishing himself at Marseille over the long term. Despite this, there is consensus among critics that he displayed an extraordinary ability throughout his career in spite of his chronic injuries, being most renowned in Japan.
Born to father Dobrivoje and mother Desanka in Niš, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia, Stojković took to football very early while growing up in Pasi Poljana community near Niš. He has been nicknamed Piksi after Pixie, one of the characters from the cartoon Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks. In addition to his native Serbian, Stojković also speaks English, French, Italian as well as learning a few Japanese.
Playing in the FK Radnički Niš youth system, in summer 1979, fourteen-year-old Stojković's talent was already evident that he got attached to the Vladica Kovačević-coached FK Partizan under-16 team as a temporary addition to the squad for the duration of a tournament in Quimper, France. Flown to Belgrade and further to France for the occasion, the trip marked a series of firsts for the youngster: his very first time in the Yugoslav capital Belgrade, first time travelling abroad, and his first time on an airplane.
Upon returning to Radnički, Stojković was again attached to the FK Partizan youth squad the following summer, 1980, for youth tournaments in the Italian Adriatic coastal towns of Senigallia and Falconara Marittima.
A midfielder and occasional forward, Stojković began his professional playing career with Yugoslav First League and hometown side Radnički Niš in 1981–82 when he made one first-team appearance. The next four seasons, Stojković appeared in 69 matches for Radnički and scored eight goals.
Red Star BelgradeEdit
In the summer of 1986, twenty-one-year-old Stojković moved to Red Star Belgrade where he would spend the next four seasons, scoring 54 times in 120 appearances.
By the 1989-90 season, Stojković became a transfer target for some of the biggest and richest European clubs of the day. Juventus representatives first reached out to the player as well as Red Star, however, any possibility of a deal soon fell through as Stojković was reportedly skeptical about his playing opportunities in Turin due to the UEFA-enforced three-foreigners matchday squad rule and the bianconeri already having three foreigners in their Dino Zoff-coached team—Soviets Sergei Aleinikov and Oleksandr Zavarov as well as Portuguese Rui Barros. In late November 1989, Olympique de Marseille owner Bernard Tapie flew to Belgrade, reaching a preliminary agreement—with the Red Star management about a transfer fee amount as well as with the player about his wages—that was to be officially signed at the end of the season during the summer 1990 transfer window. Right after agreeing a pre-contract with Marseille, Stojković was contacted by AC Milan's Adriano Galliani who was ultimately unsuccessful in persuading Tapie to give up on Stojković.
In the summer of 1990, twenty-five-year-old Stojković made the much publicized move to Olympique de Marseille for a transfer fee of £5.5 million, joining the star-laden squad bankrolled by French businessman/politician Bernard Tapie. The expectations were sky-high with a team featuring world-class players such as Jean-Pierre Papin, Éric Cantona, Chris Waddle, Carlos Mozer, Manuel Amoros, Didier Deschamps, Jean Tigana, Abédi Pelé, etc. as well as newly arrived defender Basile Boli and new head coach Franz Beckenbauer fresh off winning the 1990 FIFA World Cup with West Germany. Stojković had his own shining moments at the said World Cup, all of which only contributed to Marseille's interest.
Early into his debut season, Stojković sustained a knee injury for which he had to have surgery in Germany, forcing him to the sidelines for months. In fact, the entire 1990–91 league season was injury riddled for the Serb and he ended up making only eleven league appearances. Beckenbauer stepped down from the coaching post during the winter break, although he remained with the club in an adviser capacity. The new head coach to replace the famous German was Raymond Goethals. In the final of the UEFA European Champions' Cup, Marseille played against Stojković's former team Red Star. Stojković, a penalty kick specialist, entered the game late during the extra-time as a substitute, but as the match eventually went to a penalty shootout, he informed head coach Goethals that he did not want to take a penalty shot against his former team. Red Star won the European Cup in the shootout.
He subsequently transferred to Hellas Verona in Italy in the summer of 1991, for ten billion liras. The team had won the scudetto just six years before, but after some financial problems had just being promoted back to serie A after one year in the Italian second league. Stojkovic had an unlucky season, plagued by injuries and disciplinary troubles, and was sold back to Marseille where he remained for two more seasons, which meant he finally got Champions league winner medal in 1992–93, however, he was unlucky to miss the final because of injury. Recently[when?], Marseille fans voted him as best ever to wear OM shirt.
Nagoya Grampus EightEdit
In the spring of 1994 Stojković signed with Japanese J-League team Nagoya Grampus Eight, then managed by Arsène Wenger and featuring Gary Lineker. He spent seven seasons with Grampus Eight, retiring as a player in 2001. Stojković played 183 matches for the club, scoring 57 times. He was named J-League MVP for the 1995 season. Since then, he gained huge popularity among Japanese supporters, most notably among Nagoya Grampus' fans, due to his skillful display, this had followed him even after his retirement. Fans commemorated him by chanting "Ale Piksi" in case he scored a goal.
Stojković made his under-21 debut on 11 October 1983 versus Norway in Pančevo as part of qualifying for the 1984 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. Playing under head coach Ivan Toplak, the youngster from Radnički Niš scored on his debut as Yugoslavia won 6–2.
Stojković made 84 career international appearances, scoring 15 times, those split between the SFR Yugoslavia national team and the FR Yugoslavia national team. He played for the former in UEFA Euro 1984, 1984 Summer Olympics, 1988 Summer Olympics and the 1990 FIFA World Cup and for the latter in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000. He made his international debut on 12 November 1983 in a scoreless draw against France.
At the 1990 World Cup, Stojković scored both goals in Yugoslavia's 2–1 round-of-16 defeat of Spain in Verona. In the quarter-final, he was one of three Yugoslavs to miss in the 3–2 penalty shootout defeat to world champions Argentina.
He was later called to UEFA Euro 1992, but the nation would be suspended due to the Yugoslav Wars. After being part of team in 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000, his final international match was against the country he spent much of his playing career in, Japan, on 4 July 2001.
Style of playEdit
A highly skilful midfield playmaker, Stojković in considered to be one of the greatest players ever to come out of former Yugoslavia; he was also capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, as a central midfielder, or as a forward, and was even used as a target–man on occasion. A quick, opportunistic, and unpredictable player, he was known in particular for his vision, creativity, and passing ability, as well as his excellent technique and dribbling skills, which enabled him to beat several opponents, and earned him the nickname "the Maradona of the Balkans." Despite his talent, however, his career was affected by several injuries, which hindered his potential.
Upon retiring in 2001, 36-year-old Stojković immediately became the Serbian Football Association president, succeeding Miljan Miljanić. Though Stojković's appointment initially received wide public approval, his 4-year tenure will be remembered for 2006 world cup qualifier.
During that period he was elected as a member of the UEFA technical committee and member of FIFA football committee for an 8-year term.
Red Star Belgrade presidentEdit
In July 2005, Stojković became the president of Red Star Belgrade. Similar to his FA appointment 4 years earlier, Stojković again became a successor to another long term, larger than life figure, Dragan Džajić who occupied various leading positions within the club's administration during the previous 26 years. This transfer of power was full of controversy with plenty of lobbying behind the scenes and at times open feuding in the press.
One of Stojković's first orders of business ahead of the 2005–06 season was firing the head coach he inherited, Ratko Dostanić, and bringing Walter Zenga who thus became the first foreigner ever to coach Red Star. Calling on his Japan connections, Stojković also got Toyota Motor Corporation to invest in the club through a shirt sponsorship deal. Additionally, he also opened the club's doors to various prominent Serbian companies like Delta Holding and Telekom Srbija thus creating a pool of sponsors.
On the player personnel front, Stojković initially more-or-less continued the existing "buy low sell high" policy that meant players were mostly recruited from Red Star's own youth system or smaller clubs throughout Serbia and Montenegro, and then sold abroad as soon as they gained some exposure on the European scene. Stojković's most prominent initial move was loaning out striker Marko Pantelić to Hertha Berlin for €250,000 on the last day of the summer 2005 transfer window (Pantelić was eventually sold to Hertha for additional €1.5 million in April 2006). On the other hand, 20-year-old striker Milan Purović and 22-year-old keeper Vladimir Stojković were brought to the club from Budućnost Podgorica and FK Zemun, respectively. Additionally, by bringing in Ghanaian midfielder Haminu Dramani, president Stojković indicated he was also interested in affordable foreign imports, which would soon become a staple of his transfer policy. All three new arrivals gelled well with the existing squad (featuring the likes of Nikola Žigić, Boško Janković, Milan Biševac, Dušan Basta, Nenad Kovačević, Aleksandar Luković, and Milan Dudić), as Red Star won the domestic double in impressive fashion. The club also played some impressive football in UEFA Cup where on last group matchday only a late goal by RC Strasbourg's Kevin Gameiro prevented them from progressing to the eight-finals.
Winning the double combined with some fine European outings during previous season raised the fans' expectations considerably as they now wanted the existing Red Star squad to be kept intact (especially Nikola Žigić who reportedly at the time became a target of some high-profile English Premiership clubs) in order to make a serious run at qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. However, the first move came as a complete shock—president Stojković sold goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković to FC Nantes, reportedly for €3 million. Trying to deal with the angry fan reaction, he attempted to explain that the move had been necessary to cover the club debt that grew to alarming levels following years of mismanagement and unpaid commitments of some key sponsor pool members. The wholesale clearance continued with Nenad Kovačević, Milan Dudić, Haminu Dramani, Aleksandar Luković, and Boško Janković also leaving, but their departures caused comparatively less angry fan reaction. However most were still disappointed to see the winning team disassembled and sold off so quickly.
On 12 October 2007 Stojković announced that he was stepping down as the president of Red Star Belgrade.
Stojković returned to Japan to take over as manager of his former club, Nagoya Grampus, on 22 January 2008. On 15 March 2008 the former J.League MVP won his first game as manager as Nagoya Grampus stunned AFC Champions League 2007 Champions Urawa Reds 2–0 at Urawa's home, the Saitama Stadium. Despite his glorious playing career at Nagoya, some Nagoya fans were initially worried about his lack of experience as a coach; however, his team finished in 3rd place and he led the club to AFC Champions League for the first time in his debut season.
In a 2009 J.League match between Yokohama F. Marinos and Nagoya Grampus, Stojković amazed everyone by scoring a goal from his technical area. One of the players had just been injured, so the goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto kicked the ball out of play to stop the game. Stojković got out of his seat in the dugout and volleyed the ball, which went high into the air before dipping into goal. For this action he was sent off by the referee.
On 20 November 2010, Stojković led Grampus to the J. League title, the club's very first. Stojković has stated that he had learnt a lot about football from former manager Arsène Wenger, who had led the club to their previous best showing in 1995 when they finished runners-up and Emperor's Cup champions, and had kept regular contact with him, with Wenger giving him advice and congratulating him on the club's success. Stojković has been named by Wenger as the person he would like to take over Arsenal when he has gone stating "Our ideas are the same and we both strive for perfect football." After the successful 2010 season, Stojković was awarded the J. League Manager of the Year.
Stojković was announced as manager of Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F on 24 August 2015 on a contract that would expire in 2017. On 8 September 2016, Guangzhou R&F confirmed that Stojković had signed a renewed contract with Guangzhou R&F until the end of the 2020. Stojković saved the team from the threat of relegation in 2015. The rest of his time in charge was characterised by attacking football, with striker Eran Zahavi twice winning the CSL golden boot award. Guangzhou R&F also made the semi-finals of the CFA Cup in 2016 and 2018, and just missed out on qualifying for the Asian Champions League in 2017. The team finished 12th in the 2019 Super League and had the league's worst defensive record, conceding 72 goals in 30 games. After spending over four seasons at the club - making him Guangzhou R&F's longest ever serving manager - Stojkovic left the club in January 2020.
|Yugoslavia national team|
- As of match played 7 September 2021
|Nagoya Grampus||January 2008||December 2013||278||141||56||81||50.72|
|Guangzhou R&F||August 2015||January 2020||141||57||26||58||40.43|
Red Star Belgrade
Nagoya Grampus Eight
- J. League MVP: 1995
- J. League Best Eleven: 1995, 1996, 1999
- Japanese Footballer of the Year: 1995
- Best Athlete of SD Crvena Zvezda: 1987, 1988, 1989
- Zvezdina Zvezda: 1990
- Yugoslav League MVP: 1988, 1989
- FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1990
- Yugoslav Footballer of the Year: 1988, 1989
- The Dream Team 110 years of OM: 2010
- FIFA XI: 1991, 1998
- J.League 20th Anniversary Team
Nagoya Grampus Eight
- J.League Manager of the Year: 2010
- Sportsperson of the Year of Niš (2010)
- Serbian Coach of the year: 2016
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