Šekularac in 2007
|Full name||Dragoslav Šekularac|
|Date of birth||8 November 1937|
|Place of birth||Štip, Kingdom of Yugoslavia|
|Height||1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking Midfielder|
|1951–1955||Red Star Belgrade|
|1955–1966||Red Star Belgrade||375||(119)|
|1967||St. Louis Stars||8||(1)|
|1974||América de Cali||7||(0)|
|1975||Serbian White Eagles|
|1975||Serbian White Eagles (player-coach)|
|1989–1990||Red Star Belgrade|
|1992||Al Nassr Riyadh|
|1996||Busan Daewoo Royals|
|2006||Serbian White Eagles|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Dragoslav Šekularac (Serbian Cyrillic: Драгослав Шекуларац; born 8 November 1937) is a Serbian former football player and coach. 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. As a coach, he led several clubs in Canada, Colombia, Australia, Serbia, Mexico, and Spain, and the Guatemala national team in the 1986 World Cup qualification.
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 was born in Štip, Republic of Macedonia, to a Serbian father Bogosav hailing from the Vasojevići region in northern Montenegro and mother Donka Markovska from Macedonia. 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.
Šekularac made his senior debut at only 17 years of age on 6 March 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).
At only 18, he made his national team debut on 30 September 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.
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."
Serbian White Eagles FC
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Others point to his lack of effectiveness and a seeming disproportion between his talent and his overall career statistics.
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 popular culture
- 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".
- 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 Serbian sports journalist Jovo Vuković) wrote an autobiography titled Ja, Šeki (I, Šeki). The book was also published in Belgrade.
- Vuković, Jovo (2011). Ja, Šeki (in Serbian). IP Beograd. p. 21. ISBN 978-86-84057-37-4.
- "LEGENDA DVA PUTA ROĐENA: Dragoslav Šekularac proslavio 158. rođendan!". Kurir (in Serbian). 1 December 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
- Bezobrazluk se čitao u očima!; Plavi vjesnik, April–May 1968
- Džajić nije najbolji; Glas javnosti, 13 January 2006
- Vesti (2000-05-16). "Vesti spezial magazine, pg. 13" (in Serbian).
- Prvoslav Vujčić, Urban Book Circle (2006-05-01). "Get out of here, I am Sekularac by Prvoslav Vujcic". Retrieved 2013-10-28.
- Djuradj Vujcic (2006-10-18). "Najbolji kanadski fudbalski klub i prvi srpski, profesionalni, fudbalski klub u dijaspori" (in Serbian). Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-21.
- Serbian White Eagles (2006-10-05). "Serbian White Eagles 2006 CSL Quarterfinal". Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- Srpski fudbal od Montevidea do Dejana Stankovića; Press, 26 December 2010
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