Calcio Champion: Dejan Savicevic

Italy clash with Montenegro on Wednesday night and the connection with the new football nation goes way beyond Mirko Vucinic and Stevan Jovetic. Many will remember Dejan Savicevic and his rise to fame with Milan. The former forward is now the president of the Montenegrin Football Association and profiles the great man...
Savicevic is the most famous player in the country's history and he rose to fame following successful spells at Red Star Belgrade and Milan. It was his stunning performances with Red Star which put him on the Rossoneri's hit-list.

The playmaker scored against Milan in 1989 when the two teams met in the European Cup and it was here where the Italian club took note of his football genius. His vision, skill, ability to run and take on defenders and leave them for dead rose eyebrows at San Siro.

However, the Milanese side had to wait three years before signing him as Savicevic stayed on at the Belgrade-based side to help guide them to their one and only European Cup in 1991. A year later, current England coach Fabio Capello wasted no time and signed the player ahead of a number of top European teams.

At the time, Milan were the dominant force in Europe and the Montenegrin joined a team full of legends such as Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, and Zvonimir Boban. Described as a 'Genius' by club president Silvio Berlusconi, Savicevic wasted no time in showing his new side, and he would quickly become a fans favourite.

In his first season he fired four goals in 10 games for his side and he established himself as a big-game player. Many will remember the superb lob against Andoni Zubizaretta of Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League final. The Spanish were no match for Milan on the pitch as the Italians ran riot in Athens.

Savicevic set up Daniele Massaro's opener. The Italian striker pounced on the pinpoint ball which left the Montenegrin's boot like a guided missile. Massaro then made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time. However, the goal, perhaps the greatest in Champions League history alongside Zinedine Zidane's against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002, will long live in the memory of Milan fans around the world.

Miguel Angel Nadal made a school boy error on the wing and the Milan man took full advantage as he saw Zubizaretta off his line and didn't need a double invitation to pull the trigger. It was the icing on the cake for the Rossoneri. Marcel Desailly made it 4-0 on the night but the final belonged to the Milan number 10. It was his second European Cup win and he went on to lift three Scudetti as well as a European Supercup. He scored 29 goals in 84 Serie A appearances between 1992 and 1998 for Il Diavolo.

The attacking midfielder then turned his hand to coaching with his national side but it didn't work out too well. In 2004 he became the president of the Montenegrin FA and he has been running the country's football affairs since then. It is believed that Savicevic doesn't get paid for his job and he does it voluntarily in an attempt to put the small nation on the big football stage.

Salvatore Landolina