|Full name||Michael Pejic|
|Date of birth||25 January 1950|
|Place of birth||Chesterton, Staffordshire, England|
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|1998||Leek Town (caretaker-manager)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Pejic started his career with Stoke City under the management of Tony Waddington. He became a very important player in Stoke's successful early 1970s side, helping the club win the League Cup in 1972. A left-back, he was renowned for being a tough player and was prone to being sent-off, and on one occasion was suspended for five matches. He broke his leg in February 1975, and in his absence City's genuine First Division title challenge fell away. He was sold to Everton for a £135,000 fee in February 1977, where he played three seasons before joining Aston Villa in 1979. He retired due to injury in 1980.
He later managed Leek Town, Northwich Victoria, Chester City, and Malaysian side Selangor FA, and also coached Port Vale from 1986 to 1992. In the late 2000s he coached at Plymouth Argyle and Ipswich Town.
Pejic was born in Chesterton in Newcastle-under-Lyme and supported Stoke City from an early age. His father, an immigrant miner from Yugoslavia, took him to watch the matches at the Victoria Ground. In his teenage years Pejic was playing for Newcastle-under-Lyme schools as a left-winger and signed professional forms with Stoke in 1967, where manager Tony Waddington took the decision to convert him into a left-back. After two years in the reserves he made his debut against West Ham United at Upton Park, helping Stoke keep a clean sheet against World Cup winner Geoff Hurst. He took over from the disappointing Alex Elder and established himself in the first team. Pejic was a strong athlete with a sweet left foot and was compactly built at 5 ft 8in. Pejic was a 'hard player' and was a strong tackler who enjoyed letting his opposing winger know he was around with a scything tackle. He was a fitness fanatic who, unlike many of his Stoke teammates had another job outside of football, as he kept a farm near Leek.
He became a regular in the Stoke squad in 1969–70 and the early seasons in the 1970s. Stoke enjoyed a successful period, reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup twice and winning their first major trophy – the League Cup – in 1972. He played the whole ninety minutes of the final, as the "Potters" beat Chelsea 2–1 at Wembley thanks to goals from Terry Conroy and George Eastham. During two seasons, 1970–71 and 1971–72, Pejic played in over 100 senior matches. He earned a call up to the England national side in 1974, playing in four matches, but lost his place to Liverpool's Alec Lindsay. During his time at Stoke Pejic was prone to being sent-off and was once suspended for five matches by the FA. He broke his leg in February 1975, and injuries to three other key players caused Stoke's bid for the First Division title in 1974–75 to fall away to a fifth-place finish. In January 1976, the Butler Street stand roof at the Victoria Ground collapsed after a powerful storm gripped the area. To cover the costs the club had to sell their most valuable players and Pejic joined Everton for £135,000.
Under the stewardship of Gordon Lee, the "Toffees" finished in ninth place in 1976–77. They also reached the League Cup Final, but lost to Aston Villa at Old Trafford without Pejic in the team. He did though play 46 games in the 1977–78 season, as Everton finished third in the league. At Goodison Park, Pejic again suffered a broken leg this time against Leeds United in December 1978, and was limited to 26 appearances in the 1978–79 season.
He was replaced by John Bailey and in 1980 he joined Ron Saunders's Aston Villa. But injuries again took their toll and he was limited to 12 appearances in the 1979–80 season before he decided to retire at Villa Park in 1980.
Coaching and management career
Pejic took charge at North West Counties League side Leek Town, and led the "Blues" to a ninth-place finish in 1984–85. His stay at Harrison Park was brief, as he resigned to take over as manager of Northwich Victoria. He took the "Vics" to a 16th-place finish in the Alliance Premier League in 1985–86.
He was appointed youth coach at Port Vale in July 1986, being promoted to first team coach in December 1987. He helped manager John Rudge to lead the club to promotion in 1988–89. However, he was sacked in March 1992, twelve months later an employment tribunal ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed and Vale were forced to pay a four-figure compensation sum.
When I moved up to coach the first team I was still doing the youth team, the reserves, the goalkeeping coaching and also the centre of excellence along with Neil Baker and Richard O'Kelly. It was a seven-day-a-week job, so it's fair to say I was heavily involved. I also introduced a fitness programme and worked really hard with the first team on dividing them into units and concentrating on their jobs in each third of the pitch. There were a few argie-bargies at first, but they accepted what I was doing and all worked really hard at it.
Pejic was named Chester City manager in June 1994 after the shock resignation of Graham Barrow. He inherited a very bare side after the loss of several key players, and an immediate relegation back to Third Division was inevitable after the side began the 1994–95 season without a point from their first seven games. Pejic was sacked in January 1995 after a 4–0 thrashing by York City at the Deva Stadium. He returned to Leek Town as caretaker-manager in 1998, before the appointment of Ernie Moss.
He went on to be the regional director for the North East FA and has coached such stars as Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Stewart Downing. He then taught FA coaching courses at NWHC in Nuneaton. In 1999, he managed Malaysian side Selangor FA. In February 2007, he became Head of Youth Coaching at Championship side Plymouth Argyle. In June 2010 he left Argyle to take up a similar position at Ipswich Town. On 14 November 2010, Pejic was suspended from his coaching role at Ipswich Town after allegations of bullying.
He took up the martial art of taekwondo at the age of 62 and earned a place in the national team for the over 60 age group. He is a co-commentator on Stoke City matches for local radio station for Signal 1. He also writes a column about Stoke in the Saturday edition of The Sentinel. He married Marilyn, sister of singer Jackie Trent, in June 2017. In April 2019, he became the over 65's Taekwondo European champion after winning the gold medal in Antalya, Turkey.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other[A]||Total|
|Stoke City||1968–69||First Division||1||0||0||0||0||0||—||1||0|
|Aston Villa||1979–80||First Division||10||0||0||0||2||0||—||12||0|
- Stoke City
- Matthews, Tony (1994). The Encyclopaedia of Stoke City. Lion Press. ISBN 0952415100.
- Stoke City 101 Golden Greats. Desert Islands Books. 2002. ISBN 1-874287554.
- "Mike Pejić The original Serb Soccer Star". britic.co.uk. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- "Leek Town FC Managers". Leek Town F.C. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
- Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 229. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0.
- "Pejic helped make Vale players fit for purpose ahead of cup shock". The Sentinel. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- "The Malaysian National News Agency". Selangor without Pejic for rest of league matches. 31 May 1999. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- "Argyle's youth-team leader Mike Pejic departs for Ipswich". thisiscornwall.co.uk. 29 June 2010. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- "Town Release Pejic Statement - Ipswich Town News". TWTD.co.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
- "Martial arts: Stoke legend getting a kick out of new sport". The Sentinel. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "Pejic on Owen". Signal 1. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Smith, Peter (10 April 2019). "The Stoke and Everton hero who has battled depression to be European champ at 69". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- Mike Pejic at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
- Pejic, Mike at National-Football-Teams.com
- Matthews, Tony (18 December 2008). The Legends of Stoke City. Derby, United Kingdom: Breedon Books. pp. 140–1. ISBN 978-1-85983-653-8.
- "Some of the stories..." footballsite.co.uk. Retrieved 9 June 2016.