Dragan Džajić

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Dragan Džajić
Dragan Džajić.jpg
Dragan Džajić (1970)
Personal information
Full name Dragan Džajić
Date of birth (1946-05-30) 30 May 1946 (age 68)
Place of birth Ub, FPR Yugoslavia
Playing position Left winger
Youth career
1961–1963 Red Star Belgrade
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1963–1975 Red Star Belgrade 590 (365)
1975–1977 SC Bastia 56 (31)
1977–1978 Red Star Belgrade 25 (5)
National team
1964–1978 Yugoslavia 85 (23)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Dragan Džajić (Serbian Cyrillic: Драган Џајић; born 30 May 1946) is widely considered to have been one of the best Serbian footballers to emerge from former Yugoslavia. Regarded as a preeminent and very proficient left winger. Džajić has been known for his "great crosses and passes, unstoppable dribbling with great pace, natural technique and some of the best left footed free kicks ever seen". Džajić is viewed by some football experts as perhaps one of the most underrated players in European football, partly because he played in Yugoslavia. In December 2011 Džajić was named in being part of "the greatest European Championship XI of all time" by Goal.com.[1]

Club career[edit]

Born on 30 May 1946, in the small town of Ub, 60 kilometres outside Belgrade, Džajić's football career (1961–1978) was spent primarily with Red Star Belgrade. Džajić was a brilliant left winger who guided a Red Star Belgrade career spanning 590 games and 287 goals by winning five league titles and four Yugoslavian Cups. In 1969, Džajić received the Sport newspaper's Golden Badge award for Yugoslavia's best athlete. He is considered to have been one of the most important players in the history of the club and is one of only five players to have been awarded the Zvezdine Zvezde status.

In 2013, Dzajic was identified as the greatest Yugoslavian player of all time, and honoured by his inclusion alongside Pele in the best Sheep Draft team of the year.

Red Star Belgrade[edit]

Early starter[edit]

Džajić was plucked from the relative obscurity of his local club, FK Jedinstvo, by Red Star Belgrade youth coach Miljan Miljanić, spending two years in the club's youth system.

Though only 17 years and 8 days of age, Džajić was handed his first team debut by head coach Miša Pavić in a Yugoslav First League match against FK Budućnost Titograd on 8 June 1963, which finished 0–0. It was the last week of the 1962–63 league season with FK Partizan already clinching the league championship and Red Star hovering in 7th place, out of European spots.[2] The match was played at Omladinski Stadium at Karaburma because Red Star's famous home Marakana was in the final construction stages.

Džajić might have started out as a left-back, but it was further up the flank that he made his impact. Red Star Belgrade's resident # 11 was an expert dribbler whose sweet left foot provided countless goals for team-mate Vojin Lazarević, his right wasn't bad either. Džajić was rewarded for his brilliance with championship medals in 1964, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1973, while he lifted the cup in 1964, 1968, 1970 and 1971.

Semi-final defeat[edit]

European Champion Clubs' Cup success very nearly came his way too. In the 1970–71 season, Red Star Belgrade reached the semi-finals of the top continental club competition, and beat Panathinaikos FC 4–1 in the first leg in Belgrade. Džajić was suspended for the return in Athens, however, which the Greek team won 3–0 to go through on away goals.

SC Bastia[edit]

From 1975 to 1977, he played for SC Bastia in France (finding the net another 31 times). He is considered to have been one of their most notable players of all time.

International career[edit]

Džajić on his most well-known international matches (at the UEFA Euro 1968):

"I have nice memories from that championship. It's true that our failure in the final hurts me, but from today's perspective I can say that we made a great result. Some excellent teams were behind us but against the home side, we were in a subordinate position due to a 'higher power.' The referee Dienst was the Azzurri's twelfth man and they won only due to his help. In those circumstances, our generation couldn't win the gold medal. It's also too bad that there was no Ilija Petković in the repeated match because our game play would have been much quicker."[3]

"Džajić is the Balkan miracle – a real wizard. I'm just sorry he's not Brazilian because I've never seen such a natural footballer."

-Pelé about Džajić[4]

Džajić was just 18 when he was first named to the Yugoslav national team. He made his debut on 17 June 1964 in a 2–1 defeat against Romania at the JNA Stadium in Belgrade. Džajić would go on to earn 85 caps (the most in the history of the Yugoslav national team) and score 23 goals. Few who saw the left-winger play could ever forget Džajić's brilliance. He became internationally renowned for his passing and dribbling as well as his goal-scoring. His most famous international match was likely the 1968 European Championship semifinal against England, in which his 87th-minute lob over goalkeeper Gordon Banks gave Yugoslavia a 1–0 victory against the defending world champion. The British press dubbed him "the magic Dragan." He went on to score in the final against Italy but he could not prevent Yugoslavia going down 2–0 after a replay.

Dragan Džajić (right) facing Sweden's Jan Olsson at the 1974 FIFA World Cup

He participated in the 1974 FIFA World Cup which was held in West Germany. Džajić participated in Yugoslavia's opening championship game draw with world champions Brazil and scored one goal in a record victory of 9–0 against Zaire. However, after passing the second stage of the championship, Yugoslavia didn't repeat the results of their opening games. They lost three games in a row, and had to return home.

Džajić was much loved because of his kindly nature and easy-going manner, while on the pitch, he won admiration for being an exceptional left-winger who could both score goals and deliver defence splitting passes with fantastic precision. The left wing was his domain – and it was quite usual for him to take off, leaving all defenders in his wake to deliver an inch-perfect pass into the penalty area. If highly appreciated by players and coaches alike for his passing ability, Džajić was no less embraced for his goal-scoring. He could score from just about any angle and many of his successful attempts came direct from corner kicks. Gifted with vision and that rare gift, a killer left foot, he was already scoring "Platini-like" free kicks when the French legend was still in shorts.

Administrative[edit]

Džajić retired as a player in 1978, at the age of 32. Right away, he began performing a role as Red Star's technical director. In his first season in the new administrative role, the club reached the UEFA Cup final. Džajić became the main decision-maker within the club when it comes to transfer policy.

In 1998, Džajić became the club's president – a position he resigned from in 2004 due to health issues.

Corruption allegations and presidential abolition[edit]

On 31 January 2011, the trial started in which Džajić was charged of fraud perpetrated during the sale of players from Red Star Belgrade during Džajić's time as the president of the club, specifically Nemanja Vidić. Džajić pled not guilty.[5] The charges against Nemanja Vidić were dropped. On 16 November 2012, Tomislav Nikolić, the President of Serbia, signed an exempt from criminal liability of all charges. This abolition ended all proceedings against Džajić.[6]

Return to Red Star and Re-election as president 2012[edit]

It was stated by local Serbian newspapers in the beginning of December 2011 that Džajić would return to the administration of Red Star, as it was believed that Džajić was the only one who could get Red Star back on track. However, nothing came of this. Džajić spoke to Blic (tabloid daily newspaper in Serbia) after the board meeting, saying: "I spoke with people from the club, the desire to return was not disputed, I wanted to help, because everything that I previously experienced with the club can not be forgotten. I followed, listened to and read what happened at the meeting, I wanted to come back but nothing happened and life goes on. I remain available and in this case I can only wish Red Star better days."[7]

On 19 December 2012, Džajić was elected as Red Star President for the third time.

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Red Star Belgrade

National[edit]

Yugoslavia

Individual[edit]

Individual honours[edit]

In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Serbia and Montenegro by the Football Association of Serbia and Montenegro as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.[8]

Ahead of the last draw for the finals of Euro 2012, Goal.com looked back at all the past tournaments since the first edition in 1960 to select a best-ever XI. The greatest European Championship XI of all time featuring Zidane, Van Basten and Maldini also featured Dragan Džajić. The players were chosen based on their performances for their countries in the European Championship only. Author of the text said: "Regarded by some as Europe's greatest ever left winger, Džajić was Euro '68's best player. He scored the semi-final winner versus England with a delightful lob before opening the scoring in the final against Italy. Yugoslavia were set to triumph until a late equaliser from Angelo Domenghini forced a replay that Italy won 2–0. In 1976, he was again up to mischief as he ran West Germany ragged in the semis, scoring to put Yugoslavia 2–0 up. Germany forced extra-time with a late comeback and eventually won 4–2. Dzajic was a master dribbler with a vicious left foot."[1][9][10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Đurđa Bjedov
The Best Athlete of Yugoslavia
1969
Succeeded by
Desanka Pešut