Antić in 2009
|Date of birth||22 November 1948|
|Place of birth||Žitište, FPR Yugoslavia|
|1985–1987||Partizan (assistant coach)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Radomir Antić (Serbian Cyrillic: Радомир Антић; born 22 November 1948) is a Serbian football manager. He was a Serbian former football defender and former football manager for the Serbian national team. Following a 17-year playing career he moved into coaching.
He is the only individual who has managed FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atlético Madrid. Additionally, Antić is one of only two men to have managed both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, long-time bitter rivals (the other one is Enrique Fernández Viola).
He holds both Serbian and Spanish citizenship.
- 1 Playing career
- 2 Managerial career
- 2.1 Real Zaragoza
- 2.2 Real Madrid
- 2.3 Real Oviedo
- 2.4 Atlético Madrid
- 2.5 Second time at Atlético
- 2.6 Third time at Atlético
- 2.7 Return to Real Oviedo
- 2.8 FC Barcelona
- 2.9 Celta de Vigo
- 2.10 Serbian national team
- 2.11 Shandong Luneng Taishan
- 3 Controversy
- 4 Personal
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Antić was born in Žitište to a Serbian family that settled in the small Banat town shortly before his birth (his father Jovo is from Janja near Bijeljina, his mother Milka from the Grmeč region) both which are located in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. The family then moved to Titovo Užice when Radomir was six years old. He started his playing career with FK Sloboda Titovo Užice (1967–1968) and then moved to the club where he would play most of his career, FK Partizan (1968–1976). With FK Partizan he won national Championship (1976).
In 1980, Antić moved on to Luton Town, a team in England's Second Division (which was then the second tier). Known in England as "Raddy", he helped Luton to the Second Division title in 1982, and stayed with the club for two seasons in the top division before leaving in 1984. At the end of the 1982–83 season, he played a key role in saving Luton from relegation, scoring a winning goal four minutes from time in the final League match of the season, away against Manchester City. City, the home team, were themselves relegated as a result. At full-time, Luton manager David Pleat ran across the pitch, hopping and waving his arms wildly in celebration.
Already in his thirties when he arrived at Luton, Antić already looked to coaching as a career option once his playing days are finished. While an active player in England, he enrolled in and completed the coaching college in Belgrade (Viša trenerska škola). In that regard he often cites Pleat as an influence on his later coaching style.
Antić made one appearance for the Yugoslav national team, coming on as a substitute in the 80th minute for injured Franjo Vladić (who himself came on as a sub for Vladimir Petrović Pižon some eighteen minutes earlier) in a friendly versus Hungary on 26 September 1973 in Belgrade.
After finishing his playing career at the age of 36, Antić started a career in coaching as an assistant with FK Partizan (1985–87), working under head coach Nenad Bjeković. Partizan won the 1985–86 league title amid a huge match-fixing controversy. They also won the 1986–87 league.
In early July 1987, Fahrudin Jusufi was brought in as the new head coach and initially Antić continued his assistant role. For the pre-season training ahead of the 1987–88 season, the team went abroad where Jusufi and Antić got into a row over player personnel issues that resulted in Antić being essentially demoted to the position of Partizan under-16 youth team (cadet squad) coach.
Antić's first head coaching position was with Real Zaragoza. In addition to formerly playing for the club, his appointment owed a lot to being recommended for the job by countryman Vujadin Boškov, who successfully led Sampdoria at the time, but still enjoyed a lot of clout in Spain having led Zaragoza (coached Antić there for two years) and other La Liga clubs during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The squad was a fairly modest one without any really big names; the most notable players being the aging Spanish international midfielder Juan Señor and forward Miguel Pardeza who came up through Real Madrid's youth system as part of Quinta del Buitre. The club also had some young assets: a pair of 22-year-olds Francisco Villarroya and Juan Vizcaíno who were well on their way to becoming future Spanish internationals as well as eccentric Paraguayan goalie José Luis Chilavert who came to the club from Argentina's San Lorenzo the same summer Antić did. Antić's La Liga coaching debut occurred on 4 September 1988 in a game versus Valencia CF that ended in a scoreless draw. The initial period was rough with the club hovering in and around relegation zone, followed by a period of slight improvement, but still stuck in the lower half of the table. The sudden and somewhat unexpected breakthrough came during last eight league matches of the season as Antić's Zaragoza started posting win after win in a rapid climb up the table, finishing the season in 5th place, thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
He ended up spending two full seasons (1988–1990) managing a club he also turned out for as a player.
Real Madrid came calling in late March 1991 and Antić took over from club legend Alfredo Di Stéfano following los Merengues' elimination from the European Cup by Oleg Romantsev's Spartak Moscow at the quarterfinal stage. Di Stéfano had been on thin ice since the 1–0 league defeat in mid-March away to mid-table CD Logroñés (Real's third league loss in a row), but it was the 1–3 return leg quarter-final European Cup home loss against the Russians at the Bernabéu on 20 March 1991 that served as the last straw that prompted Di Stefano's removal. In La Liga, at the time, after 26 matches, the club occupied 7th spot in the standings.
Used to winning major trophies, the royal club was in turmoil with Antić coming in as their third head coach of the season after John Toshack and Di Stéfano.
1990–91: Stopping the bleeding
With Emilio Butragueño, Míchel, Fernando Hierro, Manolo Sanchís, Gheorghe Hagi, and aging Hugo Sánchez as the club's established stars, Antić's debut took place at the Bernabéu versus Real Oviedo on Sunday, 24 March 1991, ending in somewhat disappointing 1–1 draw considering Oviedo played with 10 men since the 68th minute.
Things would get even worse the following week with the 0–1 home loss to mid-table Real Burgos and downright critical the week after as Real got beaten 3–1 away at Luis Aragonés' relegation-battling Espanyol by conceding two late goals, dropping los Merengues to the 10th spot in La Liga. After only three league matches, Antić was feeling the full pressure of the Real hotseat.
Things finally started clicking with the 4–0 home win versus Valencia on 14 April, that started a five-match winning streak. The 3–3 away draw at Osasuna ended the streak, but the team quickly put together another 3-match winning run to end the season. On 8 June, the season ended on a high note with a 1–0 home win against champions-elect FC Barcelona in El Clásico. In total, Antić led Real in the final 12 league matches (8 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses) of the 1990–91 season, improving Real's standing to third in the league, and qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
1991–92: Success and sacking
Antić also spent the first quarter of the 1991/92 season (7 league matches) coaching the Spanish giants. During the 1991 summer transfer window, Antić brought in Robert Prosinečki, prominent member of the Red Star Belgrade's 1991 European Cup winning side, as well as promising 21-year-old Luís Enrique from Sporting de Gijón. Once the season began, one player especially excelled under Antić: 23-year-old Hierro, normally a defenceman, got moved up further into the midfield and responded by scoring in numbers, eventually ending the season on 21 league goals, the greatest single-season offensive output of his career. Antić's team began the season in furious fashion with 6 wins and one draw in the opening seven league matches.
The way Antić got fired in November 1991, showed the full range of club politics as well as the dog-eat-dog nature of top club coaching. He was enjoying a good run as the club's coach when then Real president Ramón Mendoza brought Leo Beenhakker into the organization in a vaguely defined sporting director role. In a matter of weeks Antić was sacked and replaced with Beenhakker.
Antić was hired to coach Real Oviedo when the club's brass fired previous longtime coach Javier Irureta after week 19 of the 1992/93 season with the club dangerously close to the relegation zone in 16th spot and a one match stint of caretaker Julio Marigil Marín. Antić took over from week 21 and completed the season with the club, managing to avoid relegation by finishing two spots above the drop zone. He remained at the club for two more seasons after that.
During summer 1993 transfer window, he signed Slaviša Jokanović from FK Partizan whose midfield presence greatly helped the squad. The expectations at Oviedo were obviously much more modest compared to Real, with mere top league survival being the main goal. It was therefore no small surprise that a very low budget Antić-led Oviedo team finished the 1993–94 league season in 9th place.
Antić's most notable signing at Oviedo came before the start of 1994–95 season when he brought often injured Prosinečki from Real Madrid, thus reuniting with a player he signed to Madrid in the first place. Oviedo again finished the La Liga season in respectable 9th position, missing a European spot by a couple of points.
Antić's greatest coaching successes are undoubtedly tied to Atlético de Madrid, a club that he ended up coaching during three stints.
His achievements with transforming Oviedo's fortunes led to offers from bigger Spanish clubs. Despite having been in final stages of the negotiations with Valencia CF with even a pre-contract signed, Antić decided to take the offer by Atlético's president Jesús Gil, leading to the Serb's first engagement with the club that ended up lasting three seasons (1995–98). The squad he took over during summer 1995 was a talented one featuring the quality core of José Luis Caminero, Kiko Narváez, and Diego Simeone, but with a reputation of continuous underachievement. In the season prior to his arrival, the club finished one point above relegation zone by earning a 2–2 draw versus Sevilla FC on the last matchday of the season.
1995–96: Double title
Out of the 35-player squad he inherited, Antić quickly identified 20 players he was counting on for the following season before setting about adding 5 to 6 more players during the transfer window. That meant the end of Atlético days for a slew of players including aging goalie Abel Resino, embattled Colombian striker Adolfo Valencia, Brazilian Iván Rocha, Polish striker Roman Kosecki, Russian winger Igor Dobrovolski, etc.
First on Antić's wish list was defender Viktor Onopko whom he coached at Real Oviedo: Atlético and the player agreed terms, however, Oviedo management weren't satisfied and the case ended up before FIFA arbitration commission, which ruled in Oviedo's favour. Antić then tried to get 19-year-old Fernando Morientes from Albacete, but the talented striker signed with Real Zaragoza. Out of the players Antić did manage to sign, the biggest find turned out to be unheralded winger Milinko Pantić whom Antić plucked from obscurity in Panionios for very little money. The move initially raised eyebrows with many questioning the usefulness of a complete unknown who is about to turn 29 years of age, however, over the coming season Pantić would prove himself to be the missing piece this team needed with key goals and assists. Another key acquisition was 29-year-old Bulgarian tall centre forward Luboslav Penev, brought in from Valencia despite questions about his health due to a recent bout with testicular cancer. Other incoming transfers included goalkeeper José Francisco Molina and central defender Santi Denia from Albacete, midfielder Roberto Fresnedoso from Espanyol, and young Argentine striker Leo Biagini from Newell's Old Boys who starred at the 1995 FIFA World Youth Championship.
Playing in the domestic league that was just expanded from 20 to 22 teams along with a new points system with three points awarded for a win, under Antić's command, the Atlético squad featuring Molina in goal, Delfí Geli and Santi Denia in central defence, Roberto Solozábal and Toni on right and left back respectively, Juan Vizcaíno (whom Antić previously coached at Zaragoza) and Caminero in centre midfield, Simeone and Pantić on right and left wing respectively, and finally Penev and Kiko upfront gelled together masterfully en route to a historic La Liga/Copa del Rey double in the 1995–96 season. Other players that didn't start as often, but nevertheless contributed significantly throughout the season were Fresnedoso, Juan Manuel López, Biagini, Pirri Mori, etc.
Antić's Atlético began the league campaign in furious fashion with four impressive wins. Once they took the top league spot after week 2, los Colchoneros gave it up only once (after the week 5 scoreless draw at Sevilla), before reclaiming it the very next week and impressively continuing on top until the end with Penev scoring 16 league goals, Simeone 12, Kiko 11, Pantić 10, and Caminero 9. Atlético also featured a stingy defence that allowed 32 goals – less than any other team in the league. Still, the title wasn't secure until the very last match, as Valencia stayed in close pursuit until the end. Going into the last round of matches on Saturday 25 May 1996, Atlético was on 84 points with Alabacete to play at home while Valencia had 82 and Celta away. The victory was never in doubt as Simeone and Kiko scored in the first half sparking off jubilant scenes at Vicente Calderón Stadium.
Winning the double endeared Antić to Atlético faithful and more importantly to club's controversial president Jesús Gil. Notorious for quickly and impulsively going through coaches, Gil kept Antić at the helm of his team for two more seasons (three consecutive seasons in total) – a record of sorts considering Gil's trigger-happy nature when it came to gaffers.
1996–97: Champions League participation
As replacement for aging Luboslav Penev who was impressive during the double title season despite simultaneously recovering and also as general statement of intent for the coming season, Atlético was in the market for a marquee forward. Antić wanted to bring in promising 19-year-old Brazilian striker Ronaldo from PSV and pushed hard within the club hierarchy for that to be done. However, he ultimately got overruled by higher instances and Ronaldo signed with FC Barcelona about a month later. Instead, Atlético acquired 23-year-old Argentine striker Juan Esnáider from Real Madrid. Another big acquisition was 24-year-old Czech defensive midfielder Radek Bejbl from Slavia Praha who was coming off a great showing at Euro 96 where Czechs finished runners-up. The arrival of Bejbl meant that 30-year-old Vizcaíno lost his starting spot in defensive midfield.
Simultaneously playing on two difficult fronts proved to be much more demanding and the team quickly started lagging behind Real and Barcelona in La Liga, while in the Champions League they progressed to the quarterfinals on top of the group featuring Borussia Dortmund, Widzew Łódź, and Steaua București. In the second part of league campaign Atlético somewhat steadied its form, but was unable to make up the minus from early part of the season. In Champions League, the quarter-final clash vs Ajax turned into an epic battle with tensions often spilling outside the pitch like when Jesús Gil publicly referred to Ajax as "FC Congo" due to the large number of black players of African and Surinamese origin on their team. Atlético got a great 1–1 result away as Esnáider scored a header after fine work from Delfí Geli on the right. The return leg in Madrid was a tense affair that saw los Colchoneros go up through Kiko in the first half before Overmars equalized just after halftime. With the score tied at one a piece and the match heading into extra-time, Antić decided to put Biagini on instead of Esnáider who was not pleased about the substitution and got into a vicious shouting match with the coach as he exited the pitch. Ten minutes into the extra period, Ajax's Portuguese forward Dani scored on a beautiful effort for 1–2, which meant that due to away-goals, Atlético would now have to score twice more to go through. Within five minutes they got a penalty, which Pantić converted, but couldn't manage one more goal despite attacking in waves for the remaining fifteen minutes. Due to Atlético's all out attack, Ajax even scored a third goal on the quick counter-attack through Tijani Babangida.
1997–98: Heavy spending
Ahead of the 1997–98 season, Gil invested heavily into the team, bringing 24-year-old Italian superstar Christian Vieri fresh from winning the Serie A title with Juventus. He also bought crafty 25-year-old Brazilian Juninho from Middlesbrough for ₤12 million. In order to somewhat offset the costs, inspirational midfielder Diego Simeone was sold to Internazionale. Naturally the expectations were huge, with spotlight especially focused on expensive new signings. Though both struggled with injuries causing them to miss significant chunk of the season, Vieri still managed to produce excellent form when fit to play with 24 goals in 24 league appearances, while Juninho struggled to make similar impact with only 6 goals in 23 league appearances. When Atletico started sputtering in La Liga, the rumblings about Antić's possible dismissal were heard for the first time. When Atlético got eliminated by Lazio at the semi-final stage of 1997–98 UEFA Cup, Gil launched into an obscenity-laced tirade against Spanish television for reporting he has lined up an Italian coach to replace Antić.
In the end, that is exactly what happened as he was let go at season's end during the summer of 1998 to make way for Arrigo Sacchi.
Second time at Atlético
However, Antić wouldn't be away from Atlético for long as Sacchi got sacked mid-1998–99 season after week 22 and following a 5-match stint of caretaker coach Carlos Sánchez Aguiar, the Serb returned for a second spell that lasted from week 28 until the end of the season (11 league matches). With Atlético clinging to lowly 13th spot in league standings when Antić returned, the repeat of league success proved elusive as the team recorded 3 wins, 4 losses, and 4 draws under his command to finish the season in the same 13th place. However, Antić managed to inspire the team all the way to 1999 Copa del Rey Final at the freshly opened La Cartuja Stadium in Sevilla where they ended up losing heavily to Claudio Ranieri's Valencia CF (0–3).
Antić was again let go at season's end, and eventually replaced with Ranieri.
Third time at Atlético
Antić's third stint at the club, which came during the second part of 1999–2000 season (started in February 2000) turned out to be the most difficult. Following Ranieri's dismissal after week 26 with the club in administration due to accumulated debts, Antić took over a squad that was already in a tailspin, sitting in 17th league spot barely hovering above relegation zone.
Antić's third arrival to the club ahead of week 27 did little to change matters as Atlético lost on his return, falling back into the relegation zone and never coming out of it until the end of the season. Despite the goalscoring exploits of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, they were eliminated from 1999–00 UEFA Cup at the eight-final stage by RC Lens, but relegation from La Liga several months later came as the most painful blow of all. Antić was let go after week 37 with Atletico already mathematically relegated with one league match left in the season. For the final match the team was coached by Fernando Zambrano.
Making the Copa del Rey final for the second consecutive season came as one bright spot in an otherwise disastrous season, but even that wasn't to be as they were beaten to the trophy by RCD Espanyol.
Return to Real Oviedo
After his failure to keep Atlético afloat, Antić came back to coach Real Oviedo in the summer of 2000.
It turned out to be another unsuccessful stint for him, and at times full of controversy. It is mostly remembered for the mid-season free transfer signing of English football's bad boy Stan Collymore from Bradford City on 30 January 2001, against the wishes and advice of many watchers. The move garnered a lot of media interest, but also ended up having a disruptive influence on the rest of the team. It soon became apparent that Collymore is not only out of shape physically, but also not focused on the game mentally. Barely a month after arriving to much fanfare, Collymore left Oviedo without notifying anyone from the club and soon released a statement through a spokesperson announcing his retirement from football.
Following a string of poor results, Oviedo was relegated to Segunda División at the end of the season.
After taking a year and a half long break from coaching, Antić joined FC Barcelona in late January 2003 on initiative by club president Joan Gaspart to take over from recently sacked Louis van Gaal. Caretaker head coach, Antonio de la Cruz, took temporary charge of team affairs until Antić took the reins with the famous team occupying the embarrassing 15th spot in La Liga standings with only 23 points from 20 league matches (six wins, five draws, and nine losses), but well placed in the Champions League second phase with two wins from as many matches. The club's league position was so weak that mere top-flight survival was put forth as Antić's immediate goal. On the other hand, in Champions League, the expectations were substantial. Some press outlets reported that his six month €600,000 contract with Barça was incentive based, stipulating automatic 1-year extension at the end of the season if the club qualifies for the following season's Champions League based on the domestic league finish (top 4).
Inheriting a squad of players he didn't pick himself, Antić immediately wanted some fresh blood by bringing in Juan Pablo Sorín from Lazio. He also started giving regular first team appearances to young goalie Víctor Valdés as well as throwing another youngster Andrés Iniesta into the first-team mix. Additionally, Antić moved Xavi further up the field, just behind the line of forwards thus freeing him up from the defensive duties he had under van Gaal, which allowed the diminutive midfielder to fully showcase his creativity. In general, Antić simplified the players' individual tasks, which was in stark contrast with van Gaal's complicated tactical setups.
Antić managed to stabilize the squad and lead it to 6th place La Liga finish, ensuring UEFA Cup spot. His record with the club in the season since taking over was nine wins, six draws, and three losses. In the Champions League, under Antić, Barça dominated its second phase group throughout February and early March, which gave the team a much needed confidence boost for the rest of the season on all fronts. In fact, Antić's only third match in charge of Barça was an important Champions League clash at home versus Inter Milan that the Catalans ended up winning in empathic fashion 3–0, thus marking the coach's return to the Champions League after six years and also extending the team's win streak to 11 consecutive CL matches, thus breaking the old record by A.C. Milan. However, Antić's Barça lost the hard fought quarter-final tie to Marcello Lippi-led Juventus. After Atlético six years earlier, it was Antić's second opportunity to lead a club in the Champions League, and again it ended in heartbreak after extra time. Barça got a great result in the first leg away in Turin after scoring the away goal through Javier Saviola roughly ten minutes from time to tie the score at 1–1, and looked to be in great shape heading back to Camp Nou. The second leg turned into another tough battle with very little separating the sides: Juve scored the opening goal midway through the second half, but Barça responded almost immediately and furthermore received a huge boost when Edgar Davids got sent off for second bookable offense ten minutes from the end. With momentum on their side, Barcelona mounted wave after wave of attack. Antić put Juan Riquelme on instead of Marc Overmars, and then early into the extra period threw on Gerard López for Michael Reiziger, but still couldn't make the man advantage count mostly due to some brilliant defending from Lilian Thuram. Towards the end of extra time, following full back Alessandro Birindelli's right-side run and cross, Marcelo Zalayeta scored on Juve's only shot of the period thus knocking Barça out of the competition.
Despite all his success in difficult circumstances, Antić was replaced with Frank Rijkaard during the offseason. The coaching change came as part of the general team overhaul initiated by the newly arrived club president Joan Laporta.
Celta de Vigo
Due to Antić's widely publicised success with Barça, he developed somewhat of a reputation as a crisis coach. It was probably this kind of thinking that led Celta de Vigo to hire him mid-season 2003/04 in difficult circumstances similar to Barça's one year earlier. The team lost 2–5 at home to Real Sociedad, dropping to just one point above relegation zone, all of which prompted coach Miguel Ángel Lotina's resignation. Antić took over just three days later. In another similarity to Barça, Celta was also in good shape in UEFA Champions League where it awaited the round-of-16 tie versus Arsenal.
Following his arrival on 29 January 2004, Antić's debut at Celta's bench took place away at Real Betis where the losing continued with final score being 1–0. Following this match in which he felt Celta deserved a more positive result, Antić identified overturning the loss of self-confidence among some of his players due to club's weak league position as his biggest challenge. He also mentioned that important squad members Aleksandr Mostovoi, Edu, and Jesuli were experiencing trouble hitting their usual form following injury layoffs. Antić's first move on the transfer front was bringing Saša Ilić from FK Partizan. Unfortunately, Antić couldn't pull the trick this time around. The squad never gelled together and he eventually resigned on 29 March 2004 following a 0–2 home loss to Real Zaragoza that dropped the team to second-last league position. He was in charge of the team in just nine league games, managing to get only seven points. They were also easily eliminated from the 2003–04 Champions League by Arsenal (5–2 on aggregate).
Antić's resignation hardly changed matters as Celta got relegated at the end of the season.
He later admitted joining Celta in such circumstances was a mistake and vowed never to accept coaching jobs in mid-season again.
Serbian national team
On 19 August 2008, it was reported in the Serbian media that Antić agreed terms with the Serbian Football Association (FSS) to take over his native country's national team. On 25 August he was officially unveiled as the new head coach. The appointment came in somewhat controversial circumstances as previous head coach Miroslav Đukić was being fired following a disastrous 2008 Olympic campaign and Đukić's public feuding with FA president Tomislav Karadžić. Throughout the previous decade, Antić's name had been mentioned anytime the national team job was available and many times he turned it down so many found it surprising that he finally said yes.
The appointment also marked 59-year-old Antić's return to coaching after four years. According to both Antić and Karadžić, the negotiations between the coach and the Serbian FA were very short and the agreement was reached quickly after Antić's only conditions that he brings in his own support staff and that his second in command is his long-time collaborator Rešad Kunovac were accepted. Antić's initial salary was reportedly somewhere in the range of €305,000 to €325,000 per year, along with a €500,000 bonus incentive if the team manages to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Antić's annual earnings from the job were thus less than Javier Clemente's €360,000 per year salary when the Basque was the Serbian team's head coach from 2006 until 2007.
2010 World Cup qualifying
Hired barely two weeks before the start of 2010 World Cup qualifying, Antić had precious little time to acquaint himself with the players and prepare.
His bench debut took place on 6 September 2008 in a qualifier versus the Faroe Islands in front of less than 10,000 spectators at the almost empty Marakana stadium. And although the 2–0 win was far from convincing, Antić and his team got passing marks as all eyes were on the match away at powerhouse France in Saint Denis four days later. Looking at the team he fielded on his debut, Antić introduced some fresh talent from the domestic league such as midfielders Nenad Milijaš and Zoran Tošić as well as defender Ivan Obradović. Furthermore, he brought back skillful attacking midfielder Miloš Krasić who was completely ignored by Đukić. Taking on France in the next match Antić returned to the tried and tested players, however he still caused a surprise by starting 19-year-old Miralem Sulejmani on the left wing thus continuing his long-standing practice of throwing in-form youngsters into the fire. Also surprising was leaving tall striker Nikola Žigić on the bench and starting with only on attacker, Marko Pantelić, upfront in 4–5–1 formation. And while Serbia lost 2–1 to somewhat wounded France that just days earlier shockingly lost to Austria, many positives were taken from the match at Stade de France such as a brave attacking approach with a lot of running from the wings.
Next up in October was in-form Lithuania that was on a roll after beating Romania and Austria without allowing a goal. Contrary to expectations, Antić's team made easy work of the Lithuanians in front of some 20,000 home fans by scoring twice early, and adding one more towards the end for a 3–0 final score. Four days later, the team was in Vienna to face Austria and again it put in a dominating performance: scoring three goals within a 10-minute span during first half as shellshocked Austrians never managed to recover.
As the winter break arrived, Serbia clearly made a statement of intent by sitting atop the group, tied on points with Lithuania, but with better goal difference. Simultaneously on the player personnel front, Antić was involved in a battle to secure the national team loyalty of two young, up-and-coming players who grew up outside of the country, 20-year-old defender Neven Subotić and 18-year-old striker Bojan Krkić. With Subotić he was successful as the player choose Serbia over United States and Bosnia-Herzegovina in December 2008, while Krkić choose Spain despite Antić's numerous attempts to get him to come to Serbian national team.
Next match came during late March 2009, facing Romania in chilly conditions on hard surface away at Constanţa. In what was probably its toughest test of the entire qualifications, Serbia came through again by defeating Romanians 2–3. Antić's resolve to continue playing attacking football (with two strikers Žigić and Pantelić up front, and two offensively minded wingers Krasić and Milan Jovanović just behind them) paid off again as Serbia all but eliminated Romania from the running for top two spots.
In his first qualifying campaign managing Serbia, Antić led the team to first place in their group for the 2010 World Cup. After successful qualification, it was reported in November 2009 (amid reports of icy relations between Antić and FA president Karadžić) that Antić and FSS agreed a new contract during friendly trips to Belfast and London where Serbia played Northern Ireland and South Korea, respectively. This temporarily put the feud reports to rest. Over the coming weeks, Antić's new base salary became the subject of rife press speculation putting the new sum anywhere from €528,000 per year to astronomical €1.2 million per year. Since the contract wasn't formally signed and announced by mid December, despite assurances, even by Antić's agent Miško Ražnatović, that it will happen any day now, the reports of Antić-Karadžić feud reignited, especially when irritated Antić himself flippantly claimed that he doesn't know anything about a new contract. Eventually, on 18 December 2009 Antić's new contract was announced, extending his term to 2012.
During early part of 2010, in addition to his regular assistants, Antić added experienced globetrotting Serbian coach Bora Milutinović in the adviser role. Milutinović in turn brought along his longtime assistant, Chilean Julio César Moreno. Antić mostly relied on them for opponent scouting.
In the run-up to the World Cup, out of the group of players Antić used in qualifying and subsequent friendlies, only the aging defender Ivica Dragutinović and midfielder Boško Janković were ruled out through injury. Antić announced his 24-man squad in mid-May with no major surprises. The squad featured one extra player with an understanding that one would be cut on 1 June.
Training camp and friendlies
The World Cup training camp began with a gathering in Kovilovo on 24 May 2010 with all but one player showing up – captain Stanković wasn't present due to playing the Champions League final two days earlier, joining the national team later in Austria. After one light training session on the day of the gathering, the team left for Leogang the very next morning. Žigić wasn't on the plane to Austria due to being permitted to stay behind in order to deal with personal matters of signing the transfer deal with Birmingham City that required him to fly out to England on 26 May. The absence of two starters weren't the only issues at the beginning of the camp for Antić as Luković missed the first training session in Austria due to high fever and Krasić had to train separately due to muscle pain (primicač). During the training in Austria another player was allowed to leave the squad for a short period – Bane Ivanović had a private reason as he was the best man at a wedding.
The first preparation friendly was played in Klagenfurt against minnows New Zealand on 29 May. Despite the fact Serbia was missing some of its regulars such as Bane Ivanović and captain Dejan Stanković, the 0–1 loss was still shocking. Antić started in 4–4–2 formation with each of the 20 outfield players except Stanković and Ivanović getting a chance to play. The best scoring chances for Serbia fell to Subotić and Žigić, but both mised them inexplicably.
The next friendly against Poland in Kufstein in terrible weather conditions also resulted in a surprising 0–0 scoreline with Serbia missing a host of scoring chances (especially striker Pantelić). In terms of determining the form of individual players and trying out various tactical formations, the contest turned out to be fairly useless for Antić since due to torrential rain that kept falling throughout the match and the flooded pitch, most of the protagonists were only concerned with avoiding injury.
The dress rehearsal took place at home in Belgrade versus Cameroon and although the 4–3 win was finally recorded, it came in nervous fashion as the Africans took the lead twice following lax Serbian defending. Throughout the three friendlies, Antić often rotated the squad giving everyone decent minutes.
2010 World Cup
For the first group match versus Ghana, Antić came out with more-or-less classic 4–4–2 formation that he often used in qualifying. The 4-man defensive line featured Vidić and Luković in central defense with Kolarov and Ivanović at left and right back, respectively, (meaning that young Subotić lost his starting spot in central defense after some poor outings in the friendlies). Midfield had standard wingers Krasić (right) and Jovanović (left) with Milijaš and captain Stanković in the middle while the forward duo consisted of Žigić and Pantelić. In the lackluster first half neither team was able to create much – the lack of creation and enterprise was especially noticeable in the play of Antić's team with midfield motor Krasić, as well as Jovanović, completely taken out of the match by the Ghanaian pressure tactics of double teaming the Serbian wingers in order to cut off the supply from the flanks. Since Milijaš and Stanković also achieved little through the middle, Serbia was quickly reduced to launching long balls from the back thus bypassing its own midfield that was completely disrupted by quick and physical Ghanaians playing in the 3–6–1 formation set up by their Serbian head coach Milovan Rajevac. Also noticeable and hugely disappointing was a seeming sluggishness of Antić's players who were unconvincing in one-on-one challenges and often a step slow running after through balls.
The second half began in much the same fashion. Hoping to inject some energy, Antić soon took out invisible Milijaš, replacing him with Zdravko Kuzmanović. While some openings were finally created (Žigić latching onto Pantelić's cross and somehow managing to mishit the ball away from goal with his heel in 59th minute), the match was still mostly a sedated and disjointed affair. Swapping forward for forward, Antić took off misfiring Žigić and inserted Danko Lazović. But then, just when the proceedings seemed headed for a drab goalless draw, central defender Luković (probably Serbia's best performer in the match up to that point) pulled down a Ghana player in the 74th minute and got sent off for a second bookable offense. As a result of going down to ten men, Antić was forced to patch a hole in central defense by bringing on Subotić – while the man he took off was largely ineffective Jovanović. Surprisingly, Serbia started playing much better, creating two excellent scoring opportunities in quick succession. First one involving Lazović winning the ball on the left in the 79th minute and squaring it for Pantelić who heeled it on to onrushing Krasić who in turn had his hard left-footed shot down the middle from 12 meters out saved by Richard Kingson, followed by Vidić's free header from the resulting corner that ended up just over the bar. However, more bad luck soon struck Serbia as Kuzmanović needlessly handled in his own penalty area following a Ghana cross in the 85th minute, gifting Ghanaians the penalty and a 1–0 lead (interestingly the penalty call was not made by the main referee Héctor Baldassi, but by the fourth official Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh from the sidelines). Forced to chase the result for the remaining 5+ minutes, 10-man Serbia pushed forward in numbers in a desperate attempt of coming up with an equalizer thus leaving itself vulnerable to counterattack from quick Ghanaians and was extremely lucky not to go 0–2 down as Ghana hit the post in one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Stojković.
Unexpectedly getting no points from the opening match meant that Serbia now faced a must-win situation against its next opponent, powerhouse Germany that destroyed Australia in their first match. Antić decided to switch the tactical formation to 4-3-3, which when needed adapted to more defensive 4-5-1 with young Subotić replacing suspended Luković in central defense, the three-man midfield had Ninković, Kuzmanović, and Stanković while upfront tall target-man Žigić got joined by wingers Krasić and Jovanović. After cautious opening, German forward Miroslav Klose got a second yellow card on 37 minutes. Only a minute later, Krasić stormed down the right flank, overrunning Holger Badstuber in the process, and looped the high ball into the middle where tall Žigić headed it down for Jovanović who blasted it past Manuel Neuer from close range. Despite being down a man, Germany managed to create some chances in the remaining minutes of the first half with Sami Khedira hitting the crossbar.
The first fifteen minutes of the second half featured a complete onslaught by the undermanned Germany. With chances coming one after another, confused and disorganized Serbia was completely pushed back despite having an extra player on the pitch. The German offensive culminated in the 60th minute when Vidić needlessly handled the ball in the Serbian penalty area leading to the penalty shot being awarded to Germany. However, Lukas Podolski's low shot was parried by Stojković while Subotić then provided a key clearance to deny Mesut Özil a chance to get a shot away off the rebound. The penalty save provided an injection of confidence for Antić's team as it finally began to play in the second half. Even then, 10-man Germany still had the initiative but Serbia created a few were good chances as well with Žigić's header bouncing off the crossbar. Serbia eventually won the match 1-0 and brought back hopes of progression with it.
In the final group game against Australia, Serbia only needed a single point to reach the knockout stages and named an unchanged line up from the 1-0 win over Germany. They were defeated by Australia 2–1 in an entertaining match where Serbia's dominance in the first half and in period's of the second half would have made it look like a Serbia victory. They unfortunately were their own worst enemy, their failure to convert many chances again proved costly with Australia scoring 2 goals in the second half through Tim Cahill and Brett Holman. A late Marko Pantelić goal served only as a consolation. They finished last in the group, missing out by a point.
Euro 2012 Qualifiers and Sacking
After the failed world up campaign, Serbia lost to Greece 1-0 at home in a friendly putting pressure on Radomir Antic. He started the campaign strongly with a 3-0 away win over the Faroe Islands. A frustrating 1-1 draw with Slovenia at home resulted in the sacking of Radomir Antic. He left the post with disappointment and sued the Serbian FA not long after.
Shandong Luneng Taishan
On 25 December 2012, it was announced that Antić signed a two-year contract with Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng Taishan. Although leading Shandong Luneng, which finished the 12th in the 2012 season, to reach the second place of the league, he was released by Shandong on 21 December 2013.
During the 1995–1996 double title season in Spain, Antić had a notable public spat with Spanish political columnist Hermann Tertsch of the El País daily. In an interview with journalist Carmen Rigalt that was published on 10 September 1995 in El Mundo daily, Antić took issue with the views expressed by Tertsch. Considering Tertsch's political views to be anti-Serbian, Antić called him a "Nazi". Tertsch in turn sued Antić for libel and got a court ruling in his favour in the amount of ESP2 million. Following appeals, the case even went before the Spanish Supreme Court that confirmed in mid-November 2003 the original ruling in Tertsch's favour, thus ordering Antić to pay the euro (€) equivalent of the originally awarded amount (€12,000).
Antić's primary residence is in Spain where he owns property in Madrid and Marbella. He is married to Vera. Serbian basketball player Nikola Lončar is his son in law, having married his daughter Ana. Antić also has a son Dušan. Dušan's godfather is Peter Vaghfeldt. Peter is a very close friend of the Antić family.
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- Profile on Serbian national football team website
- Profile @ BDFutbol.com
- Antić: Delimo istu filozofiju sa Špancima, MTS Mondo, 31 March 2009
- Radomir Antić Sacked
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