Branislav Ivanović

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Branislav Ivanović
Chelsea 1 Man City 1 (15791681034).jpg
Ivanović playing for Chelsea in 2015
Personal information
Full name Branislav Ivanović[1]
Date of birth (1984-02-22) 22 February 1984 (age 31)[1]
Place of birth Sremska Mitrovica, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)[2]
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Number 2
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2003 Srem 19 (2)
2003–2006 OFK Beograd 55 (5)
2006–2008 Lokomotiv Moscow 54 (5)
2008– Chelsea 223 (20)
National team
2003–2007 Serbia U21 38 (4)
2006– Serbia 82 (10)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 3 October 2015.
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 8 October 2015

Branislav Ivanović (Serbian Cyrillic: Бранислав Ивановић, pronounced [brǎnislaʋ iʋǎːnoʋitɕ]; born 22 February 1984) is a Serbian professional footballer who plays for English club Chelsea and the Serbia national team, which he captains. He is a versatile defender who usually plays at right-back or as a right-sided centre back.

Ivanović started his career at hometown club FK Srem before transferring to top division side OFK Beograd in January 2004. Two years later, he moved to Russia to play for Lokomotiv Moscow in the Russian Premier League, winning the 2007 Russian Cup. He signed for Premier League side Chelsea for a £9 million fee in January 2008, where he has since made over 300 appearances in all competitions. His honours at Chelsea include two league titles and the UEFA Champions League in 2012, and he has twice been named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Ivanović was first capped for Serbia in August 2006, and has since earned 80 caps and scored ten goals for his country. He played for the nation at their first international tournament as an independent country, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and was made captain of the national team in 2012.

Early life[edit]

Born to father Rade and mother Slavica, both of whom have sporting backgrounds, young Branislav took to football early in the youth sections of hometown Sremska Mitrovica, the club his father also turned out for professionally. Until the age of 15, he played as a striker, then he started playing the defensive positions of sweeper and centre-half to follow in his father's footsteps.[3]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Ivanović began his career in his home town with FK Srem[4] before transferring to OFK Beograd in December 2003, during the 2003–04 winter transfer window.[citation needed]

Ivanović playing for Lokomotiv in 2007

After three years of playing in the First League of Serbia and Montenegro, he was signed by Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2006. Coached by compatriot Slavoljub Muslin, the 22-year-old Ivanović made an immediate impact, appearing in 28 league matches, scoring two goals and picking up five bookings along the way. He was substituted only twice during the entire league season and contributed greatly to Lokomotiv's legitimate title challenge that ultimately fell short near end of the season. He sealed his place as a regular in the Serbian national team during his career in Russia.

In the following season, Ivanović, by now an established squad member, made 26 league appearances and scored three goals. During his time with Lokomotiv, the only major honour he won was the Russian Cup in 2007.[citation needed]


Ivanović in action against Newcastle United in 2010.

On 15 January 2008, English Premier League side Chelsea confirmed that the club had agreed terms with Lokomotiv for Ivanović's transfer, subject to the agreement of personal terms and the passing of a medical, having beaten competition from the likes of Milan, Ajax, Juventus and Internazionale for his signature.[5] Though the transfer fee was undisclosed, it was speculated to be in the £9 million range.[6] Lokomotiv later announced the transfer fee was €13 million (£9.7 million) and according to the club, the transfer was the largest in Russian football history.[7] Ivanović signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Chelsea the following day, where he was given the number 2 shirt last worn by Glen Johnson.[8]

2007–08 season[edit]

Despite the substantial price tag, Ivanović did not make a first team appearance for Chelsea during the 2007–08 Premier League season under manager Avram Grant. The reason given by the club was a lack of match fitness as a result of the Russian Premier League season's conclusion several months before his signing. Reportedly, Ivanović, who had not played competitive football in weeks, failed to impress in training, showing a lack of pace and fitness that was especially evident when matched up against club's forwards, even youth prospects such as 16-year-old Frank Nouble.[9] By the end of the season, Ivanović made two appearances for the Chelsea reserve side. Looking back on his initial six months at Chelsea, Ivanović stated it was the most difficult period of his career.[10]

2008–09 season[edit]

Ivanović playing for Chelsea against Arsenal in 2008

Before the start of the 2008–09 season, Ivanović was linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, most notably to Serie A clubs Milan and Juventus.[11] He later admitted to being very close to leaving the club, citing advice and encouragement from teammate Andriy Shevchenko as one of the reasons for staying.[10]

Eight months after becoming a Chelsea player, Ivanović made his first appearance for the Chelsea's first team, getting a start at right back against Portsmouth in the League Cup on 24 September and afterwards receiving approval for his man-to-man marking and aerial play from newly-arrived manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.[12] Ivanović soon went on to make his Premier League debut, starting against Aston Villa and playing the full 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge on 5 October, a match Chelsea won 2–0. Ivanović, however, was still far from securing a regular spot; he sat out the following five league matches, only receiving a single substitute appearance in the 85th minute away at Hull City with the contest already decided at 0–3 when Scolari sent him on to replace José Bosingwa. It would be Ivanović's starting performance at right back in League Cup against the second-tier Championship side Burnley on 12 November that convinced the Brazilian manager to give the Serb another look. This time, Ivanović got the chance at center back position instead of Alex, starting four consecutive matches, including three league contests as well as his Champions League debut away at Bordeaux. However, it would be the performance at home versus Arsenal on 30 November that lowered Ivanović's stock in Scolari's eyes again; after being up at half-time, the Blues lost the contest 1–2 courtesy of Robin van Persie's second half brace. The Serb was relegated back to the bench, recording only a couple more starts in late December and early January. He played a total of nine games in the first part of the 2008–09 season under Scolari's tenure.[citation needed]

Towards the end of the winter transfer window, Ivanović became a target of another Serie A club – this time it was Fiorentina. On 27 January, his agent Vlado Borozan confirmed ongoing negotiations with the club's sporting director Pantaleo Corvino,[13] however, on 1 February, Italian player agent Ernesto Bronzeti said Chelsea appeared unwilling to sell Ivanović and that he will likely remain in London,[14] which is what happened in the end.

Ivanović warming up before the Chelsea match in 2009.

Chelsea were in a poor run of form, culminating with a 2–0 loss away at Liverpoll followed by a goalless home draw versus lowly Hull City, all of which led to Luiz Felipe Scolari's removal on 9 February. New manager Guus Hiddink continued omitting Ivanović, who was by now completely out of the first-team picture. His first start under Hiddink finally came on 4 April away at Newcastle United, almost two months after the Dutchman's arrival at Stamford Bridge. It was the player's first league appearance in more than three months for the club, and it happened only days after he scored the winning goal for the Serbian national team in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier away at Romania. Despite playing very little competitive football over the previous months (his appearances restricted to national team and cup competitions with Chelsea), Ivanović responded with assured defensive displays.[citation needed]

He scored his first goal for Chelsea against Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final at Anfield. Later on in the contest, he went on to score a second goal, which like his first was a header off a corner. These two goals proved to be decisive, as Chelsea left Anfield leading 1–3 on aggregate, and would go on to win the tie by two goals with an aggregate score of 7–5.[15] Ivanović's two goals also earned him a regular starting place for the time being in Guus Hiddink's side, as well as making him an instant fan favourite among Chelsea supporters with the nickname Branislav "two goal' Ivanović announced before games.[16] Nonetheless, by the end of the season, Hiddink relegated Ivanović back to the bench after Champions League semi-final first leg at FC Barcelona, meaning that he didn't play in the second leg, and he also sat out the FA Cup Final.[17]

2009–10 season[edit]

Ivanović in action for Chelsea in 2010.

Beginning the season under yet another new manager in Carlo Ancelotti, Ivanović's fourth in his first 18 months at Stamford Bridge, the Serb made his first start in the Community Shield against Premier League champions Manchester United. He was substituted off at half time for José Bosingwa with United leading 0–1 as Chelsea went on to overturn the result 2–1 before conceding an injury-time equaliser and eventually winning 4–1 on penalties.[18]

In mid-August, Ivanović made his first Premier League appearance of the season against Sunderland, which Chelsea won 3–1 through goals from Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Deco.[19] In September, Ivanović made his first Champions League appearance of the season against FC Porto in the absence of Chelsea's first choice right back, José Bosingwa. Ivanović scored the first goal of his Premier League career against Bolton Wanderers with a shot from inside the penalty area on 31 October. His goal was Chelsea's third in a 0–4 victory at the Reebok Stadium. As his main competitor for a defensive spot Bosingwa went down with a season-ending knee injury in October, Ivanović became an automatic choice in the Chelsea defence.[citation needed]

Though much more settled into the Chelsea first team than in previous seasons, Ivanović continued to figure as a transfer target for various European teams, highlighting his recent form. On 22 December, a week before the opening of 2009–10 winter transfer window, he was placed on the cover of Marca, the influential Spanish sports tabloid that maintains strong links to Real Madrid. The accompanying piece claimed that Real was after Ivanović as a replacement for their injured centre back Pepe.[20]

As the season continued, so did Ivanović as a regular in the Chelsea first team. In the UEFA Champions League second round first leg away at José Mourinho's Internazionale, the eventual winners of the competition, Ivanović ran a majority of the pitch before passing to Salomon Kalou, who scored Chelsea's equaliser. His great run of form during the season led to him being named in the PFA 2009–10 Team of the Year in the right-back position.[citation needed]

2010–11 season[edit]

Ivanović began the season at right back but eventually moved back centre back due to injuries to his teammates Alex and John Terry and the return to fitness of first choice right back José Bosingwa. His first goal of the season scored in an away game against Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League on 30 October 2010,[21] a late header that secured Chelsea 2–1 win. He then scored a brace in a 4–1 win in the Champions League against Spartak Moscow on 4 November 2010, netted by a powerful header and a neat shot.[22] His second goal in the Premier League, or fourth in all competitions, came with a header during the 3–1 loss to Arsenal.[23]

Early in 2011, Ivanović scored his first goal of the year on 15 January 2011, in a 2–0 home win in a Premier League match against Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge, with a shot from close range.

Ivanović with Salomon Kalou in action against Spartak Moscow in 2010.

On 10 February 2011, Ivanović signed a new five-and-a-half-year-contract with Chelsea, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2016. After signing this new long-term deal, he said, "It is good news for me, it is a very big step for me in my career and I want to try to help Chelsea win a lot more trophies.". He also added, "These things take a little time but my first vision was always to stay with Chelsea. There were not a lot of problems because I wanted to stay, the club wanted me to stay and I want to thank everyone who helped with the deal. I am very happy with that." He ended the season by being one of three nominations for Chelsea Player of the Year, losing out in the end to goalkeeper Petr Čech.[citation needed]

2011–12 season[edit]

Ivanović scored a headed goal in the 42nd minute of Chelsea's 5–0 Champions League group stage win over Belgian club Racing Genk at Stamford Bridge.[24] He assisted Frank Lampard from an outside-of-the-foot cross in the 50th minute against Blackburn Rovers. Chelsea won the game as it was the only goal of the match.[citation needed]

Ivanović scored the winning goal in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on 14 March 2012 to complete the turn around against which was decisive extra time winner against Napoli, which Chelsea won 4–1 and 5–4 on aggregate at Stamford Bridge.[25] On 31 March 2012, this marked Roberto Di Matteo's start at Chelsea with an important win. He then went on to help Chelsea overcome Benfica in the quarter-finals and beat favourites Barcelona in the semi-finals, though he received a second yellow in the second leg and so missed the final against Bayern Munich due to suspension. Ivanović scored a double against Aston Villa in a 2–4 away win.[26] Ivanović scored again in the following game against Wigan Athletic in a 2–1 victory, with a controversial offside goal.[27]

He was once again one of three players nominated for the Chelsea Player of the Year Award after a personally successful season, but lost out to Juan Mata.[citation needed]

2012–13 season[edit]

Ivanović played all of Chelsea's pre-season games and captained the side against Seattle Sounders FC, leading the side to 4–2 victory.[28] On 12 August, Ivanović started the Community Shield match against Manchester City and was sent off for a two footed tackle on City defender Aleksandar Kolarov.[29] He started Chelsea's Premier League campaign by scoring an early goal against Wigan on 19 August, helping the Blues to a 2–0 opening round win.[30] He scored again off an assist from Eden Hazard, as Chelsea defeated Reading 4–2 on 22 August.[31] The Serbian then went on to score a goal as Chelsea defeated Norwich City 4–1 on 6 October 2012.[32] He was sent off in a Premier League game against Manchester United after a professional foul on Ashley Young, a game Chelsea lost 3–2. He scored his first ever League Cup goal in 1–5 win over Leeds United on 19 December.[33] On 23 December 2012, Ivanović scored his fifth goal of the season in an 8–0 thrashing of Aston Villa.[34][35]

Ivanović again displayed his recent goal-poaching prowess and opened his goalscoring account for the calendar year on 5 January 2013, adding a third goal to the scoreline in a third round FA Cup victory against Southampton.[36] This was also the Serb's first ever goal in the FA Cup. In Paolo Di Canio's debut as Sunderland manager on 7 April, Ivanović divereted David Luiz's long range shot past the outstretched arms of Black Cats goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, securing a 2–1 victory for Chelsea.[37]

In the Europa League Final on 15 May 2013, Ivanović headed in the winning goal in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to give Chelsea a 2–1 victory over Benfica.[38] The goal was the Serb's eighth of the campaign in all competitions, and first in the Europa League, and secured a second successive European title for the London club[39] and the 11th major trophy of the Roman Abramovich era.[40] The win also meant that for ten days, the Blues would hold both the Champions League and Europa League titles at the same time, until the final of the 2013 Champions League Final on 25 May.[41] Because of Ivanović's heroic performance at both ends of the pitch, the Serbian defender was named the Man of the Match.[42] Following the match, teammate Frank Lampard lauded Ivanović and described him as a "great man" and added, "You only have to look at him to see what a beast he is, he goes under the radar a bit because he just does his job, but what a player... He has been an absolute professional and he is a man you want on your side."[43]

Bite incident[edit]

Ivanović was subject to an oral assault by Liverpool striker Luis Suárez in their Premier League fixture on 21 April 2013. The game ended in a 2–2 draw after Suárez scored a 97th-minute equaliser to salvage a draw, a point which otherwise would not have been possible had the match officials spotted the incident.[44] Replays showed that as the two tussled for an incoming cross from Steven Gerrard, which was deflected out by Ryan Bertrand for a corner, Suárez dug his teeth into the right arm of Ivanović.[45] Suárez was found guilty of violent conduct and was handed a ten-match ban for the assault from the FA, but Ivanović did not press formal charges following the match.[46] He initially did not accept the apology from Suárez but afterwards the defender said he calmed down and accepted it.[47]

2013–14 season[edit]

Ivanović became an integral part of newly appointed Chelsea manager José Mourinho's plans as he started almost all games, missing just one league game so far due to an injury he sustained in the 2–1 win against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. He made his first appearance of the season at Stamford Bridge on 18 August 2013, helping his side keep a clean sheet with a 2–0 defeat of Hull City.[48] He scored his first goal of the season three days later, heading in Chelsea's winning goal in a 2–1 league defeat of Aston Villa.[49] Ivanović scored the only goal of Chelsea's away victory over title rivals Manchester City on 3 February 2014, bringing the sides level on points through 24 league matches.[50]

2014–15 season[edit]

Ivanović made his first appearance of the 2014–15 season on 18 August 2014, scoring Chelsea's third goal in a 3–1 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.[51] On 30 August, he scored Chelsea's second goal, after just three minutes, in a 6–3 win over Everton at Goodison Park. Ivanović was sent off in added time on 26 October after a foul on Ángel Di María at Old Trafford in a Premier League game against Manchester United; ending in 1–1 tie directly from the resulting free kick from Di María.[citation needed]

On 27 January 2015, he scored the winning goal, a header from a Willian free kick against Liverpool in the first half of extra time in the League Cup second leg semi-final to help Chelsea win 2–1 on aggregate and reach the final for the seventh time.[52] On 7 February, Ivanović scored Chelsea's winning goal of a 2–1 win against Aston Villa at Villa Park. On 17 February, he scored the team's away goal in a 1–1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 of the Champions League. Four days later, he scored the opening goal of a 1–1 draw with Burnley for his fourth goal in six matches.[53] On 1 March he started—and played the full 90 minutes—in the League Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur, helping his side to a 2–0 win for their first piece of silverware of the season.[54] On 26 April, Ivanović, along with five of his Chelsea teammates, were included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year,[55] and a week later the team won the league title.

International career[edit]


Ivanović's under-21 debut took place against Macedonia in Ohrid on 15 December 2003 in a match that Serbia and Montenegro ended up winning 4–1. He scored his first goal only two days later against the same opponent in a 7–0 rout.[citation needed]

He took part in the 2006 U-21 Championships in Portugal, where he made four appearances and scored one goal for Serbia. Ivanović was given the captain's armband during this time and continued to captain the side to the 2007 U-21 Championships final where they lost to the host, the Netherlands.

Ivanović (third right) playing for the Serbia in 2008.

In total, he featured in 38 matches for the under-21 team, scoring four goals.[citation needed]

Senior team[edit]

Ivanović received his first cap on 8 June 2005 in Toronto, Canada, when Serbia and Montenegro played a friendly against Italy, coming on as a 77th-minute substitute for his club teammate Marko Baša in an eventual 1–1 draw.[56] He was not included at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and did not play an international again until after the country's dissolution that year.

Ivanović scored his first international goal on 12 September 2007 in a UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying match against Portugal in Lisbon; following a Dejan Stanković in-swinging freekick, he scored with two minutes remaining to seal a 1–1 draw.[57]

Despite not having a regular spot at his club side Chelsea at the time,[56] Ivanović continued being the automatic starting choice for Serbia at the start of qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup under new head coach Radomir Antić, scoring three goals in nine matches as they reached the finals in South Africa. He played every minute at the final tournament, a group stage exit.

On 28 February 2012, Ivanović scored on his first appearance as captain, a 2–0 friendly win over Armenia in Cyprus. Under Siniša Mihajlović, he played as a centre-back during several friendly matches before returning to play as a right-back regularly. On 28 December 2013, Ivanović was named Serbian Footballer of the Year becoming the third player to win the award twice (others including Nemanja Vidić and Dejan Stanković) and the first Serbian player ever to win it in consecutive years.[citation needed] Ivanović scored twice for the first time in an international on 7 June 2015, as Serbia defeated Azerbaijan 4–1 in a friendly in Austria.[58]

Style of play[edit]

Is he one of the club's [Chelsea] best signings? I think so. He came immediately after I left [after my first spell in charge] and after that he made a fantastic contribution for this club. He is a competitive animal with a big heart.

— Manager José Mourinho, on Ivanović, in 2015.[59]

Ivanović is well known for his aerial ability, which when combined with his sheer strength, has seen him score numerous crucial goals during his career. As of August 2014, Ivanovic has been directly involved in 60 goals during his Chelsea career (31 goals, 29 assists). Uncharacteristically for a defender, he possesses an adept finishing ability, with Chelsea manager José Mourinho often utilising the Serbian as a striker when the team are in desperate need of a goal. His unforgiving style of defending has led him to become a feared opponent in the Premier League, with Manchester City attacker Raheem Sterling claiming, "The scariest player to play against was Branislav Ivanović. He wasn't dirty, the guy is just a tank! A big guy, big upper body, big lower body. A real tank."[60]

Starting from the 2014–15 season, Ivanović has also pushed higher up the pitch from his customary right-back position, becoming an effective attacking threat on crosses and overlaps. He has stated that this shift in technique allows him to "pin back" opposing wingers into their own half, taking them out of position and turning their focus on defending rather than attacking.[61]

Personal life[edit]

Ivanović's nickname is "Bane," a common nickname for the name Branislav. Ivanović is married to Nataša, a neighbour in Sremska Mitrovica, with whom he has a son, Stefan, and two twins, Andreja and Ana. He is a member of the Serbian Orthodox Church in London, St Sava. Ivanović's maternal uncle is late footballer Đorđe Milovanović, a former Red Star Belgrade player; his maternal cousin is Dejan Milovanović, also a professional footballer, with whom he played in the junior national teams.[3]

He is friends with tennis great Novak Djokovic, and also knows Serbian players Jelena Janković and former tennis world number one Ana Ivanovic.[62]

Career statistics[edit]


As of match played 3 October 2015[63]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Srem 2002–03 3 0 3 0
2003–04 16 2 16 2
Total 19 2 19 2
OFK Beograd 2003–04 13 0 0 0 13 0
2004–05 27 2 0 0 27 2
2005–06 15 3 2 1 17 4
Total 55 5 2 1 57 6
Lokomotiv Moscow 2006 28 2 2 0 2 1 32 3
2007 26 3 7 0 6 1 39 4
Total 54 5 9 0 8 2 0 0 71 7
Chelsea 2007–08 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2008–09 16 0 4 0 2 0 4 2 26 2
2009–10 28 1 3 0 3 0 6 0 1 0 41 1
2010–11 34 4 3 0 0 0 10 2 1 0 48 6
2011–12 29 3 5 0 1 0 10 2 45 5
2012–13 34 5 6 1 3 1 12 1 4 0 59 8
2013–14 36 3 2 0 0 0 11 0 1 0 50 3
2014–15 38 4 0 0 3 1 7 1 48 6
2015–16 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 9 0
Total 223 20 23 1 12 2 60 8 8 0 326 31
Career total 351 32 32 1 12 2 69 11 8 0 473 46


As of match played 8 October 2015[64]
Serbia national team
Year Apps Goals
2005 1 0
2006 2 0
2007 6 1
2008 8 2
2009 11 1
2010 10 0
2011 9 1
2012 10 2
2013 10 0
2014 9 1
2015 6 2
Total 82 10





Serbia and Montenegro



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External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Nikola Žigić
Serbia captain
2012 – present
Succeeded by