Miljan Miljanić

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Miljan Miljanić
Miljan Miljanic (1971).jpg
Miljanić, the coach of Red Star Belgrade, in October 1971 ahead of the Cup Winners' Cup tie verus Sparta Rotterdam
Personal information
Full nameMiljan Miljanić
Date of birth(1930-05-04)4 May 1930
Place of birth Bitola, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Date of death 13 January 2012(2012-01-13) (aged 81)
Place of death Belgrade, Serbia
Position(s) Defender
Youth career
1946–1951 Red Star Belgrade
Senior career*
1951–1952 Red Star Belgrade 1 (0)
Teams managed
1965–1966 Yugoslavia
1966–1974 Red Star Belgrade
1973–1974 Yugoslavia
1974–1977 Real Madrid
1979–1982 Yugoslavia
1982–1983 Valencia
1983–1984 Al Qadisiya
1984–1986 Al Ain
1992 Yugoslavia
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Miljan Miljanić (Serbian Cyrillic : Миљан Миљанић; 4 May 1930 – 13 January 2012) was a Yugoslav and Serbian football player, coach and administrator, who played as a defender.


Born in Bitola, Vardar Banovina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, to a family originating from the Banjani clan in the Nikšić municipality in Montenegro, Miljanić spent the first years of his life in what would later become SR Macedonia within SFR Yugoslavia and eventually present day North Macedonia.

During his colourful career, Miljanić coached Red Star Belgrade (won 10 trophies), Real Madrid (won back-to-back La Liga titles, including a League/Cup double in the 1974–75 season), Valencia CF (disappointing stint that lasted three quarters of the 1982–83 season when he got sacked with the team in 17th place in the league), and the Yugoslav national side, of which he was a head coach in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups.

He is equally known as the all-powerful president of the Football Association of FR Yugoslavia (FSJ), a post he occupied for years before leaving in 2001.

His influence on the game of football in Yugoslavia is huge as an entire generation of coaches including Ćiro Blažević, Ivica Osim, Toza Veselinović, etc. came up under his tutelage. In addition to admirers, Miljanić has his share of detractors who feel his trademark cautious and defensive tactics, as well as reliance on older players, contributed to the Yugoslav national team's poor results and unattractive play throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

In 2002, for his contributions to association football, Miljanić became the recipient of the FIFA Order of Merit — the highest honour awarded by FIFA. [1]

Early life

Miljanić was born in 1930 in Bitola, a town his geometer father Akim Miljanić had found employment in and moved the family to two years earlier in 1928. [2] Previously, in 1922, Akim had come to Belgrade from Montenegro's Banjani area in order to study at the newly opened Geodesy School. The family also consisted of mother Zorka and sisters Mira and Nada. [2]

In 1941, with Nazi Germany invading, conquering, and dismembering Kingdom of Yugoslavia into territories administered by newly-established local collaborationist regimes or neighbouring Axis powers states, the Miljanićs were forced into fleeing Bitola by the occupying Bulgarian force that had been given Vardar Banovina. [2] The fleeing family first settled in the town of Jagodina followed by relocating to Kragujevac, [2] a city reeling from the October 1941 massacre of more than 2,700 civilians committed by the Wehrmacht force.

In 1944, in Kragujevac, 14-year-old Miljanić reportedly joined the Yugoslav Partisans. [2]

Following the end of World War II, the family moved to Belgrade in 1946. [2]

Coaching career

Yugoslavia national team

Miljanić had four rules as Yugoslavia national football team, the first one between 1965 and 1966. In the next two ones (1973-74 and 1979-82), he coached the nation in 1974 and in 1982 FIFA World Cups.

By the year of 1992, the team was coached by Bosnian Ivica Osim, whose rule had qualified Yugoslavia to UEFA Euro 1992. However, with his family under the siege of Sarajevo, Osim resigned in 23 May. [3] To replace him, the Yugoslav federation called a duo of Miljanić and Ivan Čabrinović, a Serb married with a Muslim woman. [4] One day later, it was announced the squad list. [5] Under Miljanić and Čabrinović, Yugoslavia played just one unofficial friendly against the club ACF Fiorentina, in Florence, for a minor attendance and under huge protests, in 28 May. It was known by that day the rumor that Yugoslavia would be banned of the tournament due to Yugoslav wars, to which Miljanić, disgusted with increasingly questions about his players origins rather than their efficiency, reacted with wet eyes: "are we not welcomed? What? They do not want us anymore?". [4] On 31 May, with the squad already in Sweden, the ban was confirmed, just ten days before the opening match. [6]

Real Madrid

Losing to Johan Cruijff's FC Barcelona 0-5 at home at the Bernabéu in February 1974 El Clásico, followed by finishing the league season in eight place spelled the end of Luis Molowny's short tenure as Real Madrid's head coach who assumed the role mid-season following the sacking of longtime head coach Miguel Muñoz.

During the summer transfer window, the club's iconic president Santiago Bernabéu Yeste felt it was time for major change, signing Miljan Miljanić as the new head coach of Real Madrid on 5 July 1974. The Serb's only condition was that he be allowed to bring along compatriot Srećko "Felix" Radišić as fitness coach. Radišić thus became the first fitness coach in club's history. [7] Others in Miljanić's coaching staff were the club-assigned goalkeeping coach Juan Santisteban and assistant coach Antonio Ruiz.

Miljanić initiated many innovative changes in the training methods at Real. Insisting on top physical and tactical preparation, he increased the number of daily training sessions from one to three, which initially cause an outrage. [8] He insisted on players not having more than two touches on the ball, and had them perfect the long pass game with the entire team functioning as a precise mechanism. He also moved Pirri from his midfield role into the sweeper defensive role while the offensive movement usually converged with crosses for target forwards Santillana and new signing from Espanyol Roberto Martínez. [9] Furthermore, Miljanić had at his disposal goalkeeper Miguel Ángel, defensive midfielder Vicente del Bosque, veteran right winger Amancio Amaro, German midfielder Günter Netzer, newly signed defenceman from Bayern Paul Breitner, and young defender from the youth system José Antonio Camacho. Despite facing fan criticism over unattractive play, Real won the league and cup double in his first season as coach while in the Cup Winners' Cup they got eliminated at the quarterfinal stage on penalties by Miljanić's former team Red Star Belgrade. The tie took place over two legs in March 1975, and Miljanić somewhat controversially decided not to travel to Belgrade for the return leg because he couldn't bear to lead the team against his former side, saying: "I can not betray my heart". [10] Instead, he invited journalists to watch the game with him on television in Madrid. Going into the return leg Real had the 2-0 lead from the first leg, but led by Antonio Ruiz who stepped in for Miljanić that night, los merenegues lost 2-0 in Belgrade and then got eliminated in the penalty shootout.

After ending the 1976-77 season without silverware, Miljanić started his fourth campaign as Real's coach in September 1977. However, after losing the opening match of the league season to Salamanca 1-2, Miljanić resigned his post.

Personal life

Miljanić was married to Olivera "Vera" Reljić with whom he had two children: son Miloš Miljanić (former footballer and current manager of Alianza F.C. of El Salvador) and daughter Zorka. [11]

He died on 13 January 2012, aged 81, in Belgrade, Serbia after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years. Mourning the loss of the club's former great, on 14 January, Real Madrid side coached by José Mourinho played their away league match at Real Mallorca with Madrid players wearing black armbands.



Red Star Belgrade

Real Madrid


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  1. 1 2 FIFA fact sheet at
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Mitić, Milan (9 April 2015). "Zorka i Akim, rositelji Miljana Miljanića: Ode naš Milo u partizane sa 14 godina..." TV Novosti. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  3. "Yugoslavia releva al técnico para Suecia". Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 24 May 1992. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  4. 1 2 "FIRENZE, UNA FINTA AMICHEVOLE: POCA GENTE E PROTESTE". La Repubblica (in Spanish). 28 May 1992. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  5. "Pancev también renuncia a la Eurocopa". Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 25 May 1992. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  6. "Yugoslav athletes banned". The New York Times. 1 June 1992. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  7. Miljanic, el entrenador que revolucionó el Real Madrid con sus nuevos métodos;MARCA, 13 January 2012
  8. "Nos influyó para ser entrenadores";As, 14 January 2012
  9. Paralelismo entre Miljanic y Mourinho;As, 14 January 2012
  10. Falleció Miljan Miljanic;As, 14 January 2012
  11. Trener tiranin? Zar vam ja zaista tako izgledam?;Start, July 1969