By Zoran Milosavljevic
LONDON (Reuters) – Former Yugoslavia and Aston Villa striker Savo Milosevic will make his managerial debut at Partizan Belgrade after being appointed head coach by the Serbian first division club on Thursday.
“UEFA and its chief coaching ambassador, (former Manchester United manager) Sir Alex Ferguson, guided me into the job,” Milosevic told a news conference at Partizan’s stadium.
“There was a time when I thought that I didn’t want to be a manager but I changed my mind four or five years ago and made a definitive decision in 2016.”
The 45-year-old Milosevic scored 37 goals in 102 international appearances and after winning two league titles with Partizan, he moved to Aston Villa where he clinched the English League Cup in 1996.
The striker finished as joint top scorer at Euro 2000 with five goals alongside Dutchman Patrick Kluivert, as Yugoslavia reached the quarter-finals. He won the Russian league title with Rubin Kazan in 2008 before he retired.
Prior to a stint as the Serbian Football Association vice-president, Milosevic was politically active as a supporter of the country’s Democratic Party.
Milosevic acknowledged he has had numerous rifts with Partizan’s present leadership over a wide range of issues but said he is focussed on changing the club’s flagging fortunes on the pitch.
“I have had my political, professional and private differences with people throughout my life,” he said.
“I have no enemies here at Partizan. If I disagree with someone it doesn’t mean we hate each other. I fought for democracy in this country.
“We have to admit that this is a difficult time for Partizan. I will do everything in my power to turn things around and put the club back where it belongs. But it’s going to be a massive challenge.”
Partizan are third in the Serbian Superleague, 24 points behind leaders and champions Red Star, with only a mathematical chance of wrestling the title away from their bitter city foes.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis)