Saša Ilić (footballer, born 1977)

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Saša Ilić
Sasa Ilic and Fan.JPG
Ilić (right) with a fan in 2009
Personal information
Full name Saša Ilić
Date of birth (1977-12-30) 30 December 1977 (age 38)
Place of birth Požarevac, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Partizan
Number 22
Youth career
1986–1996 Partizan
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–2005 Partizan 200 (100)
2004 Celta (loan) 13 (1)
2005–2007 Galatasaray 59 (22)
2007–2010 Red Bull Salzburg 34 (8)
2009 Larissa (loan) 17 (1)
2010– Partizan 176 (27)
National team
1997–1999 FR Yugoslavia U21[1] 5 (1)
2000–2008 Serbia 37 (4)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20 August 2016.


Saša Ilić (Serbian Cyrillic: Саша Илић; born 30 December 1977) is a Serbian professional footballer who is the captain of Partizan. He is an attacking midfielder, well known for his creativity and precision passing, as well as his goalscoring ability.

After spending more than 20 years at Partizan, both junior and senior teams, Ilić is the second-most capped player in the club's history with more than 750 appearances (official and friendlies), behind only Momčilo Vukotić. He won 13 trophies with the Black-Whites, 10 national championship titles and three national cups. Likewise, Ilić is Partizan's most capped player in European club competitions with 105 appearances.

Furthermore, Ilić played internationally for his country under three different names between 2000 and 2008, making a total of 37 caps to his name. He represented Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Club career[edit]

Partizan[edit]

Ilić made his competitive debut for Partizan on 26 October 1996, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 10–0 away victory over Borac Čačak, wearing the number 1 shirt.[2] That was his only appearance in the 1996–97 season, in which the club defend the championship title. In the following season, Ilić made his debut on the international scene, providing a late second-half assist to Dragan Isailović, in a 1–0 home win against Croatia Zagreb on 23 July 1997. However, they were eliminated after a shocking 0–5 loss at Maksimir. On 23 August 1997, Ilić scored his first goal for Partizan, in a 3–2 away win against Vojvodina. He made a total of 25 league appearances that season, scoring three goals.

In the summer of 1998, after the departure of Ivan Tomić to Roma, Ilić became the team's captain, being only 20 years old at the time. With the new role on the pitch, Ilić was instrumental in helping Partizan win a national championship after a year of absence. He also played some memorable matches in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, where Partizan were eliminated in the second round by Lazio, the eventual winner of the competition.

In the following years, Ilić established himself as a leader of the team and became an idol among the fans. He scored the winning goal in the national cup final in 2001, giving his team a 1–0 victory against arch-rivals at their ground.[3]

Ilić also led the club to the national championship titles in 2002 and 2003. In European competitions, Ilić finally managed to qualify with Partizan for the UEFA Champions League in the 2003–04 season, after eliminating Newcastle United in the last qualification round.[4]

In the 2004 winter transfer window, Ilić was loaned to Celta Vigo, on a six-month period with an option for a permanent deal.[5] He was joined by two compatriots, manager Radomir Antić and striker Savo Milošević.[6] Ilić made his debut on 8 February 2004, in a 2–1 home win against Villarreal. Later that month, Ilić scored the opening goal against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabéu, however Celta would go on to lose the match 2–4.[7] However, after Celta got relegated from the Primera División, Ilić eventually left Vigo.

In the summer of 2004, Ilić returned to Partizan after a six-month loan spell at Celta Vigo, taking the captain's armband from Vladimir Ivić, who left the club that summer. His return coincided with comebacks of ex-Partizan captains, Dragan Ćirić and Ivan Tomić.[8] With experienced trio, Partizan played great football that season, winning the league with an unbeaten record.[9] They also progress to the round of 16 in the UEFA Cup, losing to the eventual champion CSKA Moscow.

Galatasaray[edit]

After a successful comeback season with Partizan, Ilić moved abroad for the second time, signing a three-year contract with Galatasaray in July 2005.[10] Upon joining Galatasaray, Ilić was offered the prestigious number 10 shirt, but he declined and chose to wear his traditional number 22. On 7 August 2005, he scored a brace on his Galatasaray and Süper Lig debut, in a 2–1 win over Konyaspor. With 12 goals scored, Ilić was the third highest goalscorer of the team in the 2005–06 season, helping the club to return the championship title to Ali Sami Yen after four years.

Ilić made an excellent start of the 2006–07 season by scoring five goals in first four league rounds. In the UEFA Champions League, Ilić was in form scoring goals against PSV and Liverpool,[11] with Galatasaray narrowly missed out on the UEFA Cup spot, finishing fourth in the group.

Red Bull Salzburg[edit]

Agreeing to the insistence of Red Bull Salzburg manager Lothar Matthäus (whom he knew from their time at Partizan), Ilić decided to join Salzburg.[12] He was officially transferred to Austrian side in June 2007, signing a three-year contract, with a €900,000 fee paid to Galatasaray. However, few days after his arrival, Matthäus was no longer coach at Salzburg.[13] He scored his first goal for the club on 8 August 2007, in a Champions League qualifier against Latvian side Ventspils.

In January 2009, Ilić signed with Larissa on loan until the end of the 2008–09 season.[14] He scored his only goal for the club in the Superleague Greece playoffs against AEK Athens.

Upon his return to Salzburg, Ilić saw very infrequent opportunities to play for Red Bull, a first in his career. In September 2009, Ilić was suspended by the club's board because of the alleged betting against Salzburg in their UEFA Europa League game with Lazio.[15] However, Ilić dismissed the accusation of betting against his own team, but admitted to betting on the other matches.[16] His teammate and countryman, Đorđe Rakić was also involved, but there were no consequences for him.

Return to Partizan[edit]

2009–10 season[edit]

On 22 January 2010, Ilić rejoined Partizan from Red Bull Salzburg on a free transfer, signing a two-and-a-half-year contract.[17] He was selected to be vice-captain to Mladen Krstajić.[18] Ilić made his official re-debut for the club against Borac Čačak, the same opponent and place as of his first match fourteen years earlier.[19] On 18 April, he has scored his first goal after returning for the club against Rad in 2–1 home league win. He missed only one out of 15 league games and scored three goals in the second part of the 2009–10 season, as the club won their third consecutive title.

2010–11 season[edit]

Saša Ilić scored his first goal of the 2010–11 campaign in a Champions League qualifier against Finnish champions HJK, showing impressive glimpses of his old in 3–0 home win on 28 July.[20] On 18 August, he Anderlecht he provide one assist to Cléo in 2–2 home draw.[21] Six days later, at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, Partizan has qualified in group stage of UEFA Champions League, first time after seven years.[22] On 15 September, Ilić has played his first match in 2010–11 group stage of UEFA Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk at Donbass Arena.[23] He played all six matches in 2010–11 UEFA Champions League group stage against Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga. He helped the club to progress to the group stage of the competition that season, first time after seven years, as well as to win a double. Ilić ended the season with 3 goals and 9 assists in 42 appearances in all competitions

2011–12 season[edit]

After Krstajić's retirement in the summer of 2011, Ilić became the captain for the third time, leading the team to another championship title at the end of that season. On 13 August, he has scored his first goal in the 2011–12 campaign against Novi Pazar. On 17 March, Ilić has scored a brace against Jagodina.[24]

2012–13 season[edit]

In July 2012, Ilić signed a new contract with the club, on a one-year deal, to prolong his career until June 2013.[25] On 11 August, Ilić has scored his first goal in the 2012–13 campaign against BSK Borča in 7–0 home win.[26] He played all six matches in 2012–13 UEFA Europa League group stage, against Neftchi Baku, Rubin Kazan, and Internazionale. Ilić ended the season with 5 goals and 5 assists in 37 appearances in all competitions. He earned a place in the 2012–13 SuperLiga Team of the Season, also helping his team win its sixth consecutive title.[27] Additionally, Serbian sports portal Mozzart Sport rated Ilić among the 25 best players in the SuperLiga that season.[28]

2013–14 season[edit]

Ilić again signed a one-year contract extension in the summer of 2013, as well as in the summer of 2014. On 22 March, Ilić has scored a winning goal in 83rd minute of the match against Sloboda Užice.[29]

2014–15 season[edit]

On 28 August, Ilić and his team entered in the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League group stage after against Neftchi Baku after winning 5–3 on aggregate.[30][31] On 18 September, Ilić has played full match against Tottenham Hotspur in 0–0 home draw in first match of group stage.[32] Three days later, he has scored his first goal in 2015–16 Serbian SuperLiga season against Radnički 1923 in 0–3 away win.[33] On 6 November, Ilić has entered in the game as a substitute for Danilo Pantić in 67th minute of the match at Atatürk Olympic Stadium and provide assist for Saša Marković in 2–1 away defeat.[34] On 9 November, he has played his 700th match for Partizan against Spartak Subotica.[35] Because of his good form, coach of Partizan Marko Nikolić gave him a chance in the starting lineup against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on 27 November.[36] On 4 April, he has score a goal and provide assist in 2–1 home league win over Radnički 1923.[37]

2015–16 season[edit]

On 22 May 2015, Ilić signed another one-year deal with Partizan.[38] On 17 July, Ilić has scored first goal in 1st round of 2015–16 Serbian SuperLiga against Metalac Gornji Milanovac in 4–0 home win.[39] He played his 100th match for the club in UEFA competitions on 29 July 2015, coming on as a substitute for Stefan Babović in a 1–1 away draw with Steaua București at Arena Națională.[40]

International career[edit]

Ilić (seventh right) in the Serbia squad

According to many fans and experts, Ilić was frequently overlooked when the national team was in question, especially missing out on qualifications for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2004. He finally became a regular for the national side during the period of Ilija Petković's tenure from 2003 to 2006. He was selected for the final 23-man squad that represented Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.[41] On 21 June 2006, he managed to score a goal against Ivory Coast in a thrilling 3–2 match, eventually won by the opposition at Allianz Arena.[42]

Ilić made 37 official appearances for the national team, scoring four goals. His last cap was on 6 September 2008, a 2–0 home win over Faroe Islands in a FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifier.

Statistics[edit]

As of August 2016

Club[edit]

Club Season League Cup Continental Other[43] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Partizan 1996–97 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
1997–98 25 3 9 5 2 0 0 0 36 8
1998–99 23 14 7 5 6 1 0 0 36 20
1999–00 32 19 2 1 7 3 0 0 41 23
2000–01 30 19 4 3 4 4 0 0 38 26
2001–02 28 12 3 0 3 0 0 0 34 12
2002–03 25 11 2 0 8 2 0 0 35 13
2003–04 14 6 1 0 10 2 0 0 25 8
Celta (loan) 2003–04 13 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 1
Partizan 2004–05 22 16 4 1 10 2 0 0 36 19
Total 200 100 32 15 50 14 0 0 282 129
Galatasaray 2005–06 30 12 4 0 0 0 0 0 34 12
2006–07 29 10 4 0 8 3 1 0 42 13
Total 59 22 8 0 8 3 1 0 76 25
Red Bull Salzburg 2007–08 30 8 0 0 1 1 0 0 31 9
2008–09 3 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 5 1
Larissa (loan) 2008–09 17 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 18 1
Red Bull Salzburg 2009–10 1 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 6 0
Total 34 8 1 0 7 2 0 0 42 10
Partizan 2009–10 14 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 15 3
2010–11 25 1 5 1 12 1 0 0 42 3
2011–12 25 4 5 1 6 0 0 0 36 5
2012–13 25 5 0 0 12 0 0 0 37 5
2013–14 26 5 2 0 6 0 0 0 34 5
2014–15 27 3 5 0 11 0 0 0 43 3
2015–16 28 6 5 0 8 0 0 0 41 6
2016–17 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7 0
Total 176 27 23 2 56 1 0 0 256 30
Career total 499 157 65 17 121 20 1 0 686 194

International[edit]

FR Yugoslavia
Year Apps Goals
2000 4 0
2001 2 0
2002 6 1
Serbia and Montenegro
2003 4 1
2004 3 0
2005 8 1
2006 2 1
Serbia
2006 3 0
2007 0 0
2008 5 0
Total 37 4

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Serbia's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 17 April 2002 Sartid Stadium, Smederevo  Lithuania 1–0 4–1 Friendly
2 10 September 2003 Red Star Stadium, Belgrade  Italy 1–1 1–1 UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
3 3 September 2005 Red Star Stadium, Belgrade  Lithuania 2–0 2–0 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying
4 21 June 2006 Allianz Arena, Munich  Ivory Coast 2–0 2–3 2006 FIFA World Cup

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Partizan
Galatasaray

Individual[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Only official UEFA matches included
  2. ^ "Jedan je Ilić kapiten!" (in Serbian). mozzartsport.com. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Kup Partizanu" (in Serbian). glas-javnosti.rs. 9 May 2001. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "Newcastle pay Partizan penalty". uefa.com. 28 August 2003. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Celta in late for Ilic". uefa.com. 3 February 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "B92: Saša Ilić potpisao za Seltu!" (in Serbian). b92.net. 2 February 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Celta lets first-half lead slip away". espnfc.com. 29 February 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Zvonko Varga ponovo u stručnom štabu" (in Serbian). partizan.rs. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Crno-beli – šampioni bez poraza!" (in Serbian). partizan.rs. 28 May 2005. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Ilic goes to Galatasaray". uefa.com. 13 July 2005. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Galatasaray 3–2 Liverpool". bbc.co.uk. 5 December 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "Salzburg boosted by Ilić arrival". uefa.com. 9 June 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "Matthäus makes way at Salzburg". uefa.com. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  14. ^ "Larissa sign Serbian ace". fifa.com. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  15. ^ "Red Bull player 'placed bet on victory of opponents'". austriantimes.at. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  16. ^ "Ilić suspendovan zbog klađenja" (in Serbian). rts.rs. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  17. ^ "Ilić i zvanično Partizanov" (in Serbian). partizan.rs. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  18. ^ "Krstajić kapiten, Ilić zamenik (VIDEO)" (in Serbian). mondo.rs. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "16.kolo BORAC - PARTIZAN" (in Serbian). superliga.rs. 27 February 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  20. ^ "Partizan leave HJK on the brink". uefa.com. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  21. ^ "Honours even for Partizan and Anderlecht". uefa.com. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  22. ^ "Spot-on Partizan keep their composure". uefa.com. 24 August 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  23. ^ "Nervy Shakhtar survive late onslaught". uefa.com. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  24. ^ "Partizan ubedljiv protiv Jagodine (VIDEO)" (in Serbian). nadlanu.com. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  25. ^ "Ilić još godinu u Partizanu" (in Serbian). alo.rs. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  26. ^ "Stojke overio: Partizan - BSK 7:0!" (in Serbian). mozzartsport.com. 11 August 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  27. ^ [1] Mozzart Sport (Serbian): Idealnih 11 Superlige: Partizan pet, Voša tri, Zvezda, Hajduk i Srem po jednog predstavnika! (VIDEO) – 27 May 2013
  28. ^ [2] Mozzart Sport (Serbian): TOP 25 najboljih fudbalera Superlige u izboru MOZZART Sporta (VIDEO) – 2 June 2013
  29. ^ "PARTIZAN PRATI ZVEZDU: Sloboda pala u završnici, Saša Ilić stigao Bobeka" (in Serbian). kurir.rs. 22 March 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  30. ^ "Neftçi 1-2 Partizan". uefa.com. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  31. ^ "Partizan u Ligi Evrope! I da se nikad više ne vrati u Azerbejdžan! (VIDEO)" (in Serbian). telegraf.rs. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  32. ^ "Partizan cancel out Tottenham". uefa.com. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  33. ^ "Domaći plodovi evropskih iskustava" (in Serbian). FK Partizan.rs. 21 September 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  34. ^ "Ba brilliance spurs Beşiktaş past Partizan". uefa.com. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  35. ^ РТС: Хет-трик Шкулетића за тријумф Партизана у Суботици (9. новембар 2014)
  36. ^ "Tottenham see off Partizan to progress". uefa.com. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  37. ^ "Po notama maestra Ilića" (in Serbian). FK Partizan.rs. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  38. ^ "Sa legendom do novih titula!" (in Serbian). partizan.rs. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  39. ^ "Partizan – Metalac 4:0 (3:0)" (in Serbian). FK Partizan.rs. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  40. ^ "Saša Ilić – 100. put u Evropi" (in Serbian). mondo.rs. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  41. ^ "Petković saopštio spisak igrača za Mondijal". sportskacentrala.com. 16 May 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  42. ^ "Ivory Coast 3–2 Serbia & Montenegro". bbc.co.uk. 21 June 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  43. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the Turkish Super Cup
  44. ^ Tomković, V. (20 December 2013). "Tradicionalna anketa 'Novosti': Kapiteni biraju fudbalera godine" ["Novosti"'s traditional poll: Footballer of the year voted for by the captains]. Večernje novosti (in Serbian). Belgrade. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ivan Tomić
Partizan captain
1998–2004
Succeeded by
Vladimir Ivić
Preceded by
Vladimir Ivić
Partizan captain
2004–2005
Succeeded by
Albert Nađ
Preceded by
Mladen Krstajić
Partizan captain
2011–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent