Kovačević with Olympiacos in 2008
|Date of birth||18 November 1973|
|Place of birth||Kovin, SFR Yugoslavia|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 1 1⁄2 in)|
|1994–1996||Red Star Belgrade||47||(37)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Darko Kovačević (pronounced [dârko koʋât͡ʃeʋit͡ɕ]; Serbian Cyrillic: Дарко Ковачевић; born 18 November 1973) is a former Serbian football player. He is known for his spells at Real Sociedad where his partnership with Nihat Kahveci was one of the best in Spain. His key attributes are his strength and aerial ability. Kovačević also had positive spells with Juventus and Olympiakos. In international competition, he represented Yugoslavia at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Proleter and Red Star Belgrade
Beginning his career with his birth-town club FK Radnički Kovin, but was soon spotted by Zrenjanin based Serbian top league club FK Proleter and it became clear, at the young age of 19, that Kovačević would become one of the country's greatest ever goalscorers. Spending two seasons with the club, Kovačević managed over a goal every other game, and was quickly snatched up by Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade. Kovačević flourished at the Belgrade club, becoming one of Europe's hottest prospects and earning a call-up to the Yugoslavia national team. Netting in an astonishing 37 goals in just 47 games, Kovačević was eventually picked up by Premier League club Sheffield Wednesday in December 1995 for £2m.
Given the opportunity to showcase his skills in one of the top leagues in Europe, Kovačević initially looked good, impressive in the air, and scoring 2 goals in one game against Bolton Wanderers in a 4–2 victory that saw him likened to Les Ferdinand, but the rest of his skills failed to leave any mark with the English club. Kovačević's transfer turned out to be a disaster for Sheffield Wednesday as the striker managed only 4 goals in his lone half-season at the club. His move to Wednesday from Red Star was in July 2007 named No. 10 on The 50 worst transfers in Premier League history list by British newspaper The Times.
Hoping to reach top form once again, Kovačević moved to La Liga side Real Sociedad in 1996. It was with the Spanish club that Kovačević put on some of his best performances and became one of Europe's best once again. Larger clubs soon came calling, with Italian giants Juventus acquiring the big Serbian in 1999.
Juventus and Lazio
At the Turin based club, Kovačević found goals in both the Serie A and competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup becoming their leading European goal scorer one season. Yet the Juventus management felt Kovačević was underachieving and soon both parties were looking for a move out of Italy, with clubs such as Rangers willing to offer £12m for the Serbian's services. In 2001 Kovačević spent a brief time with Lazio (as part-swap deal with Marcelo Salas) before moving back to Spain in the middle of the season.
Real Sociedad (second time)
In 2001 Kovačević eventually returned to the club where he found his most success at, Real Sociedad. Kovačević would go on to spend 6 more seasons at the club, netting in 51 goals in his second spell with Sociedad. The 2006–07 season would be Kovačević's last season with the Spanish side, ending in the club's relegation.
In 2007 Kovačević signed with Greek champions Olympiacos. Kovačević once again reached top form for the Piraeus based club, scoring 17 goals in the Greek Superleague to lead Olympiacos to the league championship, and adding 3 goals in the Champions League as the team reached as far as the Round of 16.
In early 2009, he was diagnosed with a blocked artery; he successfully underwent heart surgery to improve the flow of blood to his heart. His doctors have advised him that he should retire from football, and Kovacevic officially retired in May 2009, playing a final friendly match for Olympiakos to celebrate the winning of the Greek domestic double. After his retirement he stated that he may take another role for the team. Then Kovačević and his children, Darko jr and Stella, who were at St. Lawrence College, all went back to Spain. However, Kovačević returned to Greece as he loved the country and worked for several months as a columnist. In June 2010 the new president of Olympiakos, Evangelos Marinakis hired Kovacevic as a Chief Scout for the club. In May 2013, he terminated his contract with Olympiacos.
Kovačević made 59 appearances for the then FR Yugoslavia national team. Beginning his international career in 1994, Kovačević would go on to score 10 goals and compete in both EURO 2000 and FIFA World Cup 1998.
|Serbian national team|
- Red Star Belgrade
- Alpuin, Luis Fernando Passo; Mamrud, Roberto; Miladinovich, Misha (20 February 2009). "Yugoslavia (Serbia (and Montenegro)) – Record International Players". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
- Edgar, Bill (18 July 2007). "The 50 worst transfers". The Times (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Philip, Calum (5 August 2000). "Rangers set to renew pursuit of Kovacevic". The Independent (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Kovacevic Hospitalized for Artery Problem SI.com, 13 January 2009
- Crvena Zveda Zveda With Darko Kovacevic Mirosport.net, 17 January 2009
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Darko Kovačević.|
- Darko Kovačević – FIFA competition record
- Darko Kovačević statistics and biography at FootballDatabase.com
- Darko Kovačević at National-Football-Teams.com
- Profile on Serbian national football team website
- Gate7 Tribute