Kevin Pogorzelski Date: 30th August 2019 at 12:15pm
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With Red Star Belgrade reaching the Champions League group stages for the second consecutive season, minds are cast back to their historic triumph in the competition back in 1991, albeit in its previous form.

However, while the names of players like Sinisa Mihajlovic, Robert Prosinecki and Dejan Savicevic are often remembered for their involvement, the name of Serie A legend Vladimir Jugovic is often forgotten.

The man who turns 50 today, was just 21 years old when the Serbian club defeated Marseille on penalties at the Stadio San Nicola in Bari, but played a crucial role in their ascent to the top of European football before excelling in Italy.

Born in the small village of Milutovac, some 115 miles from the capital, Jugovic joined the Red Star ranks at an early age and, despite being loaned to FK Rad, was always destined to star for the club.

Coach Ljupko Petrovic was a huge admirer of the youngster and made him a fixture of the 1991 side that also captured the Yugoslav First League that same year and would retain it the following year.

His confidence in midfielder was certainly not misplaced, as Jugovic played a starring role Red Star securing world wide dominance, scoring the first two goals of a 3-0 over Colo Colo of Chile to secure the Intercontinental Cup in 1991.

Earlier that year he had made his debut for the Yugoslavia national team against Czechoslovakia, however, being played primarily as a left winger never really suited the right-footer’s creativity from central areas.

Domestically he was much more a central midfielder, although sometimes stationed on the side of a narrow midfield four and where he spent three largely positive seasons at Sampdoria, after the club signed him in 1992.

Winning the 1994 Coppa Italia with the Blucerchiati, Jugovic did leave the club on a slightly sour note, after missing a penalty in a European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final loss to Arsenal. Two goals in the first leg against the Gunners no doubt softens any ill feeling from fans though.

Within 12 months there was a smile on his face once more and another Champions League medal hanging around his neck, after joining Juventus during the summer. Once again it was a Jugovic spot-kick that was crucial, netting the decisive penalty to defeat Ajax.

Contested in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, even if he had not moved to the peninsula, collecting a second European crown in the country would certainly have had him developing an affection for his adopted home.

Another Intercontinental Cup against River Plate arrived midway through the 1996/97 season, which also brought Jugovic’s first and only Scudetto, as he soon headed south to join Lazio.

In his solitary season with the capital club, the midfielder picked up yet more silverware. Winning a second Coppa Italia against AC Milan, but lost the 1998 UEFA Cup Final to their cross-town rivals Inter.

Looking back, that summer was the start of his declining influence as a player after realising a personal dream of appearing in a World Cup for Yugoslavia – playing every minute at France 98 – and left Serie A for Atletico Madrid.

It was in Spain that injuries begin restricting appearances and he missed the entirety of his countries Euro 2000 qualifying campaign over the next 18 months, by which time he had returned to Inter.

Jugovic did manage a half century of appearances with the Nerazzurri, though, scoring three times, and one more major tournament with Yugoslavia, but his Italian adventure was finally over for good in 2001.

Brief stints with Monaco, Admira Wacker and Rot Weiss Ahlen brought no further trophies, but gave him the chance to see a little more of the continent that he had conquered with Red Star and Juventus, and hopefully be remembered by a few more fans across Europe.