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Euro 1968 Legends: Dragan Dzajic, Yugoslavia

Euro 1968 Legends: Dragan Dzajic, Yugoslavia

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Goal.com looks at various players who became achieved cult status for their performances in the Euros. We go way back to the Euro in 1968, with Dragan Dzajic the Legend

Dragan Dzajic

Date of Birth: 30 May, 1946

Place of Birth: Ub, Yugoslavia

Height: 1.74 m

Playing Position: Left Winger

 

Regarded by some as the greatest left winger in history, Dragan Dzajiv played for most of his career in his relatively closed homeland. Few ever got the chance to see him, until the 1968 European Championships. This proved to be the showcase that the player needed to prove himself against the world's best, and so he did, as Dzajic was the best player at Euro 1968, hosted in Italy.

Dragan Dzajic, whose delicate lob over Gordon Banks had eliminated world champions England in the last four, again appeared to have made the difference for Yugoslavia in Rome.

Vahidin Musemic and Dragan DZajic caused the hosts no end of problems, while 19-year-old debutant Jovan Acimovic typified the impressive composure displayed by a young Yugoslavia side. Their wholehearted display paid off when Trivic played in Dragan Dzajic who beat Dino Zoff for the opening goal.

Twice, Dzajic nearly added to Yugoslavia’s lead, though there was no lack of resilience needed to maintain their lead. Things were looking increasingly concerning for Italy, until Domenghini’s efforts were at last rewarded. After hitting a post in the semi-final from a dead ball, Domenghini made no error in the final, crashing the ball to Ilija Pantelić's left and into the Yugoslavian goal.

There was a visible sense of relief in the stands, which continued through extra time, till the referee blew the final whistle. The two sides were forced to meet again in the replay two days later. Italy won the replay 2-0, lifting the European Championship.

Yugoslavia ended up as runners-up of the Euro 1968

"Style of Play"

He was much loved because of his kind nature and easy-going manner, while on the pitch, he won admiration for being an exceptional left-winger who could both score goals and deliver defense-splitting passes with fantastic precision. The left wing was his territory and it was quite usual for him to take off, leaving all defenders in his wake to deliver an inch-perfect pass into the penalty area.

Dzajic was not withheld to creating, accumulating 424 career goals from the wing. The man could score from just about any angle and many of his successful attempts came direct from corner kicks. The player oozed class and was famous as a dead ball specialist. Gifted with vision and that rare gift, a killer left foot, he was already scoring "Platini-like" free kicks when the French legend was still in shorts.

Speaking on his heavenly performances, Pelé remarked, "Dzajic is the Balkan miracle, a real wizard. I'm just sorry he's not Brazilian because I've never seen such a natural footballer."

Dzajic’s delightful lob in the 1968 Euros against England led to the English press to christen him "The Magic Dragan".

 

“Honours”

Dzajic's professional career was spent primarily with Red Star Belgrade who won five Yugoslavian First League titles and four Yugoslavian Cups.

Dzajic’s sole Yugoslavian championship was the Mediterranean Games, 1971.

At the European Championship in 1968, Dragan Dzajic won the UEFA Euro Player of the Tournament, UEFA Euro Top Scorer and was part of the UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament. Dzajic featured in the UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament for a second time in 1976.

He won the Golden Badge in 1969, which is given to the best athlete in Yugoslavia, now Serbia.

He is one of only five players to have been awarded the Zvezdine zvezde, star of Red Star title which is awarded to those players who made the club famous.

He was the Golden Player of Serbia and Montenegroin 2004, which was selected by their Football Association as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.


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