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Stanković with Inter Milan in 2009
|Full name||Dejan Stanković|
|Date of birth||(1978-09-11) 11 September 1978|
|Place of birth||Belgrade, SFR Yugoslavia|
|Height||1.81 m (5 ft 11 1⁄2 in)|
|Red Star Belgrade (manager)|
|1992–1995||Red Star Belgrade|
|1995–1998||Red Star Belgrade||85||(29)|
|2002–2006||Serbia and Montenegro||25||(4)|
|2019–||Red Star Belgrade|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Dejan "Deki" Stanković (Serbian Cyrillic: Дејан Станковић, Serbian pronunciation: [dějan stǎːŋkoʋitɕ], born 11 September 1978) is a Serbian professional football manager and former player who is the manager of Serbian SuperLiga club Red Star Belgrade.
He captained the Serbia national team from 2007 until 2011, when he announced his retirement from international football. Stanković began his career at Red Star Belgrade, before joining Lazio in 1998. He spent more than five years with the latter club before joining Inter Milan, where he remained until his retirement in 2013.
Stanković grew up in Zemun, a municipality of Belgrade. Both of his parents, Borislav and Dragica, have strong football backgrounds. Stanković is renowned for being the only man to represent three different nations at FIFA World Cups – Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro and Serbia.
Red Star Belgrade
Stanković began playing football for FK Teleoptik, based in his neighbourhood of Zemun. When spotted by Red Star cadet squad coach Branko Radović, however, 14-year-old Dejan transferred to Red Star Belgrade's youth system. Stanković then passed every age category at his hometown club. In the youth teams, he was coached by Vladimir Petrović, playing alongside future professionals Nikola Lazetić and Nenad Lalatović.
During the 1994–95 season, Stanković's debut opportunity for first team action came under head coach Ljupko Petrović against crosstown rivals OFK Beograd on 11 February 1995. Fighting for a spot on the team led by, among others, Rambo Petković, Darko Kovačević, and Nebojša Krupniković, 16-year-old Stanković made seven league appearances that season as the team won league title. He scored his first goal against Budućnost Podgorica, soon becoming a first team regular and a fan favourite.
During the early 1990s, Red Star was under an international ban because of a UN sanction imposed on FR Yugoslavia, meaning that the team could not compete in any European competition. The ban was lifted ahead of the 1995–96 season, and just a year later Stanković played a huge part in a memorable two-leg victory over 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the Cup Winners' Cup.
Before the start of the 1997–98 season, he was made squad captain at the age of 19, the youngest ever in the club's history. Despite not winning the league he captained the team to two domestic cup victories.
In the summer of 1998, Stanković transferred for ₤24 million to Lazio, where he scored on his Serie A debut versus Piacenza on 13 September 1998. In those years, Lazio had an all-star squad with world class players at almost every position, but Stanković quickly secured a regular first-team place despite competition from fellow midfielders Pavel Nedvěd, Juan Sebastián Verón and Diego Simeone. He formed a formidable midfield combination with Nedvěd, Veron and Simeone and were an integral part of the successful Lazio side at the turn of the decade. His work rate and impressive performances earned him the nickname "Il Dragone" ("The Dragon") from fans. He had five-and-a-half successful seasons in the Biancoceleste part of Rome before earning a high-profile move to Inter Milan in February 2004.
As Stanković began the 2003–04 season at Lazio, the Biancoceleste struggled with financial problems and were forced to sell many of their best players. Big name teams in European football knew that the club would have to sell the midfielder in the nearest future, so there was fierce competition for his services during the 2003–04 winter transfer window. Juventus were favorites in the chase for the Serb's signature with even some preliminary paperwork reportedly signed between the two parties in early January 2004, but the player eventually chose Inter Milan. He was signed as part of a deal worth €4 million, that also sent Macedonian international Goran Pandev (plus 50% of Pandev's contract) in the opposite direction.
The fact that his old friend, former teammate, and head coach from Lazio Roberto Mancini was already rumoured to be soon taking over the head coaching duties at Inter may have influenced Stanković's decision. In early February 2004, Stanković played his debut for Inter under head coach Alberto Zaccheroni, a Serie A clash at home against Siena that ended 4–0. On 21 February 2004, he scored a spectacular goal directly from a corner kick to put Inter 1–0 up in Derby della Madonnina versus fierce rivals Milan. Inter finished the league season in fourth place thus qualifying for Champions League. Still, Inter president Massimo Moratti was not convinced with Zaccheroni and at the end of the season, just like rumoured, brought Mancini from the financial shipwreck at Lazio.
The head coaching change suited Stanković just fine, and he got reunited with another familiar face from Lazio – Siniša Mihajlović. On 7 May 2006, Stanković played his 100th match for Inter. Coming off the summer appearance at the 2006 World Cup, he carried excellent form right from the start of the 2006–07 Serie A campaign, scoring some decisive goals. His strike against Catania and his memorable goal against city rivals Milan, only further enhanced his already glowing reputation with Internazionale fans. According to the official ratings of the La Gazzetta dello Sport, Stanković was selected as the man of the match five times throughout the 2006–07 Serie A campaign. He renewed his contract on 2 February 2007, with Inter securing his services until at least 2010.
With the June 2008 arrival of José Mourinho to the position of Inter's head coach, there was a lot of press speculation about Stanković's exit from the Nerazzuri (along with Adriano, Hernán Crespo, David Suazo and Nicolás Burdisso) being imminent, due to reportedly not being held in high regard by the newly arrived Portuguese coach. A lot of the press' focus was also placed on Stanković's friendship with previous head coach Mancini and assistant coach Mihajlović, with veiled suggestions that it was this friendly relationship with the coaching duo that kept the Serb midfielder in the club, even when his performances were less than stellar throughout the 2007–08 season. Then in late June, after reports that Stanković was told by Mourinho that he would not be allowed to show up for the pre-season training in South Tyrol, and more reports that Stanković and Juve had agreed personal terms, it seemed that Stanković was definitely on his way out. The press reports of Stanković's pending arrival to Juve, sparked the club's fans into protests and online petitions, as they would neither forgive his turning down the club back in January 2004, nor his exuberant public celebrations after the 2005–06 Serie A title was stripped from Juve, and handed to Inter following the Calciopoli scandal. The Juve deal fell through within days for a variety of other reasons, and Stanković was suddenly reported to be happy to stay at Inter. However, the transfer talk was reignited again by Mourinho's suggestion in mid July 2008 that "Stanković was not the same player that he was at Lazio", which some took as a sign that the players Inter days were numbered, once again.
Stanković, however, remained with the club to fight for a spot on Mourinho's team, and soon after the season started, he managed to achieve his aim. On 19 October 2008, Stanković scored a superb goal in Inter's 4–0 hammering of Luciano Spalletti's Roma away at Stadio Olimpico. After receiving a pass from Sulley Muntari, he drove the ball past the Roma goalkeeper into the net, his 24th goal in all competitions for the Nerazzuri, thus ending a year-long goal drought. The relief and vindication after everything he had gone through during the summer, was evident in his goal celebration, and in interviews after the match Stanković talked of his joy to be fully back on form, following the injury-prone previous season. He also thanked Mourinho for giving him an opportunity, even after the two did not get off on the right foot during the summer off-season.
In December 2008, Stanković, by now an irreplaceable part of Mourinho's midfield, gave another display of his rediscovered form versus Chievo at home: first with a through-pass to Maxwell for the game's opening goal, followed by a goal of his own for 2–0 with a first time shot from the edge of the penalty area, and finally an assist from the right wing to Zlatan Ibrahimović as Inter recorded a 4–2 win.
On 7 February 2009, Stanković celebrated his 200th appearance for Inter in all competitions at the away game versus Lecce. Inter hammered the newly promoted team 3–0 with Stanković heading in the third goal following a slick free-kick cross from Maicon. Stanković's season-long good form continued as he scored Internazionale's second goal against Milan in the 270th Milan Derby on 15 February. This turned out to be the winning goal after Alexandre Pato had pulled one back. Inter went on to win a fourth consecutive title, his fifth Serie A trophy.
In the Champions League, Inter limped into the second round after losing its final two group stage matches against Panathinaikos and Werder Bremen. In the first elimination round (round of 18), they lost to Manchester United in a hard-fought tie. Stanković played the full 90 minutes in the first leg at San Siro, putting in a very lively and active display. In the return at Old Trafford, Stanković started the match and had a great first half 37th minute effort after playing a one-two with Ibrahimović, and striking the ball with the outside of his boot from some 25 metres out, only to see it go centimeters wide of Edwin van der Sar's right post. Two minutes later, Stanković had another glorious opportunity when he got in behind Patrice Evra on the right, as Ibrahimović picked him out with a cross from the left, but the Serb did not make good enough contact with the ball in the one-on-one situation with Van der Sar, and the shot therefore went over the bar. In the 57th minute, with United leading 2–0, and Inter forced to chase the result, Mourinho took Stanković off and inserted striker Adriano. The match marked Stanković's 63rd Champions League appearance, thus overtaking Predrag Đorđević at the top of the list of Serbian players with most appearances in the competition.
The 2009–10 season began well for Stanković. In the Milan derby on 29 August, he played in a deeper role to replace the injured Esteban Cambiasso. Nevertheless, he scored Inter's fourth goal and his second in consecutive Milan derbies in a 4–0 thrashing, a spectacular 30-yard strike after quickly collecting Sulley Muntari's pass. He subsequently scored against Rubin Kazan and Udinese to continue his rich vein of form under José Mourinho.
At the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in mid December, Stanković played an excellent semi-final against Seongnam, scoring the opening goal and turning in an all around midfield performance. Despite this, however, Benítez decided to bench the midfielder for the final versus TP Mazembe, only bringing him on for Christian Chivu in the 54th minute. Benítez was soon sacked despite winning the trophy, and a couple of weeks later Stanković expressed his dismay at Spaniard's decision to leave him on the bench for the final. On the same occasion, despite publicly backing the beleguerd coach months earlier, Stanković stated that Benítez simply "didn't work" at Inter. He says that strong personalities crashed to each other's (Internazionale players after winning Champions League and strong personality of Rafael Benítez), so at the end Benitez departed after six months at the bench.
Under newly arrived head coach Leonardo, Stanković continued to be the automatic midfield choice, displaying his versatility (at times filling in for injured Wesley Sneijder in the midfield organizational role). Stanković scored his first goal under new coach at home versus Bologna in mid-January, and then continued with the same form away at Udinese, scoring the opening goal followed by hitting the post in a match that Inter lost 3–1. In Coppa Italia quarter-final at Napoli on 26 January, Stanković injured his thigh muscle that initially ruled him out for a month. However, he returned ahead of schedule for a Serie A match at Fiorentina on 16 February, putting in a lively performance with surging runs and two good scoring opportunities as Inter won 2–1 to come within five points of league leaders Milan. Inter made good recovery chasing the league-leaders AC Milan, getting within three points of them ahead of Milan derby, but lost disastrously 0–3.
Stanković scored a spectacular volley from the halfway line against Schalke 04 in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on 5 April 2011 as goalkeeper Manuel Neuer ran out of the box to make a daring header clearance that made it up to the halfway line, leaving an open goal as a target for Stanković's firm first-time volley. Inter, however, would lose that match 2–5 at home. On 19 April, in the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg, Stanković scored the winning goal with another spectacular long-range effort, hitting a sweet outside foot volley past the despairing dive of the goalkeeper.
Stanković made his international debut for the FR Yugoslavia team against South Korea on 22 April 1998, scoring two goals in a 3–1 victory. He played at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, for the Yugoslavia national team, and soon established himself as an important player.
The Yugoslav team was renamed Serbia and Montenegro by the time 2006 World Cup qualifying started, and Stanković started in all games and scored two goals, but missed the last qualifier through injury. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he was given the number 10 shirt and Savo Milošević captained the new Serbia and Montenegro team in their first World Cup, but they failed to progress to the knock-out rounds after losing all their group matches to the Ivory Coast, Argentina and the Netherlands. After Milošević retired, the midfielder took over as captain of the re-formed Serbia national team, following the breakup of Serbia and Montenegro.
He is the silver medalist Cyprus International Football Tournament 2009 . In the 2010 World Cup qualifying, Stanković has started in and captained all but two of Serbia's matches. They qualified for their first World Cup as an independent nation. He was instrumental in their shock 1–0 win over favorites Germany, but they were not able to progress to the next round due to narrow losses against Ghana and Australia.
After captaining the team in a 1-0 loss in the final game of the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying phase against Slovenia, Stanković announced his retirement from international football after 13 years since his debut against South Korea in 1998. After a few years of speculation as to whether or not he would play a testimonial match, he ended up doing so on 11 October 2013. Appearing in 103 matches, he is the most capped player for Serbia, playing one more match than Savo Milošević. His testimonial match was played against Japan, in which he played till the tenth minute, matching the number on his shirt, making room for Ivan Radovanović. He received a standing ovation as he said his final goodbye to football. Serbia went on to win the match 2–0.
Style of play
A talented player, Stanković usually played as an attacking midfielder, although he was a versatile player who was capable of operating in many different positions, and made a name for himself as a player who could also play out wide on the wings, or track back in a defensive midfield role. A tenacious and hard-working player, "Deki", as he is nicknamed, was best known for his efficient, accurate passing, versatility and creativity, as well as his ability to score goals, in particular from long distance; he was also effective in the air, and was known for his pace, skill, and influence on the pitch.
Red Star Belgrade
|Red Star Belgrade||1994–95||First League of
|Serbia and Montenegro||2002||3||0|
Red Star Belgrade
- Serie A: 1999–2000
- Coppa Italia: 1999–2000, 2003–04
- Supercoppa Italiana: 1998, 2000
- Cup Winners' Cup: 1998–99
- UEFA Super Cup: 1999
- Serie A: 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10
- Coppa Italia: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2009–10, 2010–11
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010
- UEFA Champions League: 2009–10
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2010
- ESM Team of the Year (1): 2006–07
- Serbian Player of the Year (2): 2006, 2010
- Inter Hall of Fame: 2019
Stanković was born in Belgrade, present day Serbia, to Bora and Dragica and has a brother Siniša. He is married to Ana Ačimovič, whom he met at the age of 19, and who is a sister of former professional footballer Milenko Ačimovič, Stanković's former teammate at Red Star. The pair has three sons; Stefan (b. 2000), Filip (b. 2002) and Aleksandar (b. 2005), and the family resides in Milan. All of his three sons are members of Inter Milan football academy.
Stanković and his family spend a lot of their free time in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, the birthplace of his wife and residence of his brother-in-law Milenko. As of February 2014, Stanković has been playing amateur football for veteran's club KMN Olimpija Ljubljana, where he is playing alongside his brother in law and a number of former professional footballers (e.g. Sebastjan Cimirotič, Ermin Rakovič, Igor Lazič etc.).
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- Inter-Manchester Utd. 0:0;UEFA Champions League, February 2009
- Manchester Utd.-Inter 2:0;UEFA Champions League, March 2009
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- ; 4 April 2011
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- Includes other competitions, including the Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup
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- Nadežda Jokić (24 February 2014). "Dejan i Ana Stanković: Deca nas stalno podsećaju na ono najlepše u braku!" [Dejan and Ana Stankovic: Our kids always reminds us on the best things in our marriage!] (in Serbian). svet.rs. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- Dario Dotto (20 February 2014). "Zvezdnik na slovenskih igriščih: Dejan Stanković soigralec Ačimovića, Rakovića in Cimerotića" [A star on Slovenian pitches: Dejan Stankovic teammate of Acimovic, Rakovic and Cimerotic] (in Slovenian). Siol. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
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