Dragoslav Šekularac

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Dragoslav Šekularac
Dragoslav Sekularac Serbian White Eagles banquet 2007.jpg
Personal information
Full name Dragoslav Šekularac
Date of birth (1937-11-30) November 30, 1937 (age 77)
Place of birth Štip, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Height 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)[1]
Playing position Attacking Midfielder
Youth career
1951–1955 Red Star Belgrade
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1955–1966 Red Star Belgrade 153 (32)
1966–1967 Karlsruher SC 17 (2)
1967 St. Louis Stars 8 (1)
1968 Beograd 38 (5)
1969–1971 Santa Fe 32 (3)
1972 Atlético Bucaramanga
1973 Millonarios 23 (1)
1974 América de Cali 7 (0)
1975 Paris 9 (2)
1975 Serbian White Eagles
National team
1954–1956 Yugoslavia U-20 8 (2)
1955–1956 Yugoslavia U-21 2 (0)
1956–1966 Yugoslavia 41 (6)
Teams managed
1975 Serbian White Eagles (player-coach)[2]
Mladenovac
1984–1985 Guatemala
1986–1987 Footscray JUST
1989–1990 Red Star Belgrade
1990–1991 América
1992 Al Nassr Riyadh
1993 Heidelberg United
1994–1995 Marbella
1995 Busan Daewoo Royals (technical advisor)
1996 Busan Daewoo Royals
1998–2000 Obilić Belgrade
2002 Obilić Belgrade (director)
2006 Serbian White Eagles
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Dragoslav Šekularac (Serbian Cyrillic: Драгослав Шекуларац; born November 30, 1937) is a Serbian former football player and coach.

Born in Štip, Vardar Banovina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, nicknamed Šeki, he was quick and crafty with the ball, displaying creative skills that turned a lot of heads. Possessing supreme self-confidence along with impeccable technical ability, he was one of the biggest showmen and crowd draws in the history of Yugoslav football. His enormous popularity throughout FPR Yugoslavia during the early 1960s transcended sports as he easily became one of the most recognizable individuals in the country.[1]

Šekularac is considered one of the most important players in the history of Red Star Belgrade, he is one of only five players to have been awarded the Zvezdina zvezda status.

Šekularac is also remembered as the perpetrator of an infamous on-pitch incident in fall 1962 when he assaulted referee Pavle Tumbas in the middle of a league match. He ended up serving a year and a half long suspension.

In addition to the swelling of praise and accolades for his skills, he also attracted criticism over lack of team play and overall attitude on the pitch that some found to be disrespectful to the game.[3] Others point to his lack of effectiveness and a seeming disproportion between his talent and his overall career statistics.[4]

Early life[edit]

Šekularac was born to Serbian father Bogosav hailing from the Vasojevići clan in northern Montenegro and mother Donka Markovski from Macedonia.[5] His father was a lawyer whose job took him to Štip where he got married and started a family. Dragoslav was an infant when the family moved to Belgrade due to his father getting a job at the Ministry of Agriculture.[6]

He took up football very early, right after World War II ended, and came up through the Red Star Belgrade youth system.

Playing career[edit]

Red Star Belgrade[edit]

Šekularac made his senior debut at only 17 years of age on March 6, 1955 during the latter part of Red Star's 1954/55 league campaign under head coach Milovan Ćirić. The youngster would record only one more league appearance by the end of that season.

However, the next season, 1955/56, signaled immediate breakthrough. In addition to establishing himself as the first team player, he also became an integral part of the squad that won the Yugoslav league title in convincing fashion. He contributed to the cause with 7 goals in addition to many eye catching midfield displays that would soon become a staple of his game.

By the start of 1956/57 season, Šekularac already had a senior national team debut under his belt. And in November and December he represented FPR Yugoslavia at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Despite added pressures and responsibilities, he turned in another stellar league season helping Red Star to another title. He also played an important part in Red Star's European Champions' Cup campaign that ended at semi-final stage versus AC Fiorentina.

All the success led to coach Ćirić receiving and taking SS Lazio head coaching offer. In his place came Miša Pavić who previously mentored Šekularac in the club's youth setup. The season was not much of a success, however, either team wise or for Šekularac individually. Increased opponents' defensive focus multiplied the number of hits and knocks he was forced to endure during games. He battled injury problems that caused him to miss almost half of the season as Red Star quickly fell out of title contention.

Though the next 1958/59 season brought continued injury issues, Šekularac, by now a bona fide star across the league, managed to lead his team to league-cup double, both at the expense of arch rival FK Partizan.

He ended up playing 375 official competitive matches (156 of those in the league) for Red Star and scoring over 119 goals (32 league goals). He later played for Independiente Santa Fe in Colombia for five seasons, before transferring to Millonarios from Bogotá and ending his playing career in the German Bundesliga with Karlsruher SC.

At only 18, he made his national team debut on September 30, 1956. He was on the national side that won the silver medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, and also participated in the World Cups of 1958 and 1962. He went on to make 41 senior international appearances, scoring 6 goals.

As a coach, he was in front of several clubs in Colombia, Australia, Serbia, Mexico, and Spain. Between 1984 and 1985, he coached the Guatemala national team in the 1986 World Cup qualification process. Guatemala narrowly missed qualification.

Along with Serbian, English and Spanish, Šekularac also speaks conversational Portuguese.[7] Šekularac retired in 2007 and lives in Belgrade, Serbia.

International[edit]

Šekularac on his most well-known international matches (at the 1960 European Nations' Cup):

"Do I remember that match? To this day, I dream about it. We had a great team that won over the French fans. Against the home side, I took part in one of the best games in the history of football. I was convinced that the trophy would be in our hands. Against the Russians, we've never had luck. It was like that in the final match as well. I remember that we missed a few goal chances and that the Russians at times during the match were totally inferior. That Ponedelnik however was without empathy. He scored on us and prevented us from celebrating our (potentially) biggest triumph."[8]

Coaching career[edit]

Serbian White Eagles FC[edit]

Šekularac as coach of Serbian White Eagles in 2006

In February 2006, prior to the start of the 2006 Canadian Soccer League season, it was announced that Šekularac would become head coach of the expansion Serbian White Eagles, re-founded in February of the same year, with first assistant being Stevan Mojsilović.[9] This would be Šekularac’s second stint with the White Eagles having already played for and coached them in the past. With seasoned internationals being brought over from Serbia and the rest of Europe, the team was set.[9]

The stint, though short-lived, was not without success. The club was a hit in its first season, finishing first in the International Conference with 55 points and first overall (tallying both conferences). In the regular season, Šeki guided the club to 17 wins, 1 loss and 4 ties with a whopping goal differential of 66:13.[10]

The Eagles advanced to the knockout-stage, easily beating Toronto Supra Portuguese in the quarterfinals with a score of 3-0 and also easily beating the Windsor Border Stars in the semifinal 6-1. The fairy-tale season was almost brought to a Cinderella end but the Serbian White Eagles lost to the Italia Shooters in the final by a score of 1-0.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Šekularac was probably the first sports superstar in Yugoslavia whose fame transcended sporting bounds. The popularity he enjoyed during his playing heyday was such that he even starred in a 1962 full-length comedy feature Šeki snima, pazi se - a football-related movie built around his public persona.
  • In 1959 after winning the league and cup double with Red Star, Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli spared no expense in order to bring 21-year-old Šekularac to Juventus. The transfer was reportedly stopped by the highest echelons of communist nomenclature in FPR Yugoslavia, with even the interior minister Aleksandar Ranković commenting that Šeki is needed in the country to "entertain the working class".[11]
  • In 2006, a biography of Šekularac titled Čovek za sva vremena (The All-Time Man) by Dušan Popović was published in Belgrade
  • In 2011, Šekularac (along with well-known Serbian sports journalist Jovo Vuković) wrote an autobiography titled Ja, Šeki (I, Šeki). The book was also published in Belgrade.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Vuković, Jovo (2011). Ja, Šeki (in Serbian). IP Beograd. p. 21. ISBN 978-86-84057-37-4. 
  2. ^ Vujcic, Djuradj (2012-04-30). "Mike Bakic RedNation Online Interview". Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ Bezobrazluk se čitao u očima!;Plavi vjesnik, April–May 1968
  6. ^ Slao sam bekove „u jagode“;Blic, 29 March 2009]
  7. ^ Vujčić (2006-10-05). "Serbian White Eagles 2006 CSL Quarterfinal". Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  8. ^ Vesti (2000-05-16). "Vesti spezial magazine, pg. 13" (in Serbian). 
  9. ^ a b Prvoslav Vujčić, Urban Book Circle (2006-05-01). "Get out of here, I am Sekularac by Prvoslav Vujcic". Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  10. ^ a b Vujcic, Djuradj (2006-10-18). "Najbolji kanadski fudbalski klub i prvi srpski, profesionalni, fudbalski klub u dijaspori" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  11. ^ SRPSKI FUDBAL - Od Montevidea do Dejana Stankovića;Press, 26 December 2010

External links[edit]