Saša Ilić (footballer, born 1977)
Ilić (right) with a fan in 2009
|Full name||Saša Ilić|
|Date of birth||30 December 1977|
|Place of birth||Požarevac, SFR Yugoslavia|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
|2004||→ Celta (loan)||13||(1)|
|2007–2010||Red Bull Salzburg||34||(8)|
|2009||→ Larissa (loan)||17||(1)|
|1997–1999||FR Yugoslavia U21||5||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13 May 2015.
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 700 appearances (official and friendlies), behind only Momčilo Vukotić. He won 12 trophies with the Black-Whites, nine national championship titles and three national cups. Likewise, Ilić is Partizan's most capped player in European club competitions with 97 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.
Ilić made his competitive debut for Partizan on 26 October 1996, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 10–0 away win over Borac Čačak, wearing the number 1 shirt. 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 5–0 loss at Maksimir. On 23 August 1997, Ilić scored his first goal for Partizan, in a 3–2 away win against Vojvodina. Totally, he made 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, in a 1–0 victory against arch-rivals at their ground.
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.
In the 2004 winter transfer window, Ilić was loaned to Celta Vigo, on a six-month period with an option for a permanent deal. He was joined by two compatriots, coach Radomir Antić and striker Savo Milošević. 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 4–2. However, after Celta got relegated from the Primera División, Ilić decided not to stay at 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. With experienced trio, Partizan played great football that season, winning the league with an unbeaten record. They also progress to the round of 16 in the UEFA Cup, losing to the eventual champion CSKA Moscow.
After a successful comeback season with Partizan, Ilić moved abroad for the second time, signing a three-year contract with Galatasaray in July 2005. 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, with Galatasaray narrowly missed out on the UEFA Cup spot, finishing fourth in the group.
Red Bull Salzburg
Agreeing to the insistence of Red Bull Salzburg coach Lothar Matthäus (whom he knew from their time at Partizan), Ilić decided to join Salzburg. 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. He scored his first goal for the club on 8 August 2007, in a Champions League qualifier against Latvian side Ventspils.
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 the alleged betting on Salzburg's opponent in the UEFA Europa League, Lazio. However, Ilić dismissed the accusation of betting against his own team, but admitted to betting on the other matches. His teammate and countryman, Đorđe Rakić was also involved, but there were no consequences for him.
Return to Partizan
On 22 January 2010, Ilić rejoined Partizan from Red Bull Salzburg on a free transfer, signing a two-and-a-half-year contract. He was selected to be vice-captain to Mladen Krstajić. Ilić made his official re-debut for the club against Borac Čačak, the same opponent and place where he played his first match fourteen years ago.
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. 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. 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.
In July 2012, Ilić signed a new contract with the club, on a one-year deal, to prolong his career until June 2013. He earned 2012–13 SuperLiga Team of the Season selection, also helping his team win its sixth consecutive title. Ilić again signed a one-year contract extension in the summer of 2013 and 2014.
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 which represented Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He managed to score a goal against Ivory Coast in a thrilling 3–2 match, eventually won by the opposition.
Ilić made 37 official appearances for the national team, scoring four goals. His last cap was on 6 September 2008, against Faroe Islands in a FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifier. Ilić has said that he won't play for the national team any longer due to his (older) age and the fact that he wants to leave room open for younger players.
- As of 25 April 2015
|Red Bull Salzburg||2007–08||30||8||0||0||1||1||0||0||31||9|
|Red Bull Salzburg||2009–10||1||0||1||0||4||0||0||0||6||0|
|Serbia and Montenegro|
- Scores and results list Serbia's goal tally first.
|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|
- Serbian SuperLiga (11): 1996–97, 1998–99, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15
- Serbian Cup (3): 1997–98, 2000–01, 2010–11
Notes and references
- Only official UEFA matches included
- "Jedan je Ilić kapiten!" (in Serbian). mozzartsport.com. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Newcastle pay Partizan penalty". uefa.com. 28 August 2003. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Celta in late for Ilic". uefa.com. 3 February 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "B92: Saša Ilić potpisao za Seltu!" (in Serbian). b92.net. 2 February 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Celta lets first-half lead slip away". soccernet.espn.go.com. 29 February 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Zvonko Varga ponovo u stručnom štabu" (in Serbian). partizan.co.rs. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "Crno-beli – šampioni bez poraza!" (in Serbian). partizan.co.rs. 28 May 2005. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "Ilic goes to Galatasaray". uefa.com. 13 July 2005. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Galatasaray 3–2 Liverpool". bbc.co.uk. 5 December 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Salzburg boosted by Ilić arrival". uefa.com. 9 June 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Matthäus makes way at Salzburg". uefa.com. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Larissa sign Serbian ace". fifa.com. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
- "Red Bull player 'placed bet on victory of opponents'". austriantimes.at. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Ilić suspendovan zbog klađenja" (in Serbian). rts.rs. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Ilić i zvanično Partizanov" (in Serbian). partizan.co.rs. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
- "Krstajić kapiten, Ilić zamenik (VIDEO)" (in Serbian). mondo.rs. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Ilić još godinu u Partizanu" (in Serbian). alo.rs. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Ivory Coast 3–2 Serbia & Montenegro". bbc.co.uk. 21 June 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Includes other competitive competitions, including the Turkish Super Cup
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saša Ilić.|
- Official website
- TFF profile
- BDFutbol profile
- Saša Ilić profile at Soccerway
- Superleague Greece profile
- Saša Ilić – FIFA competition record
- Saša Ilić – UEFA competition record