Jovan “John” Lukic is an English former professional footballer of Serbian descent who played as a goalkeeper from 1978 to 2001. He played his entire career for both Leeds United and Arsenal, having two spells with each club, making a total of 668 league appearances and played at the highest level of English football in four separate decades. He was capped by both the England U21 and England B sides.
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Lukic signed for Leeds United as a schoolboy. He made his debut for the Elland Road side in 1979 and went on to play 165 games for them. After making a transfer request, Lukic moved to Arsenal in July 1983 for £75,000, as a long-term replacement for Pat Jennings. By the middle of the 1984–85 season he was the club’s No. 1, and won the League Cup in 1987 and the Division One title in 1989. He was ever present in Arsenal’s first team throughout seasons 1987–88, 1988–89 and 1989–90. Lukic played in the final game of the 1989 season, where Arsenal won the title in the last minute of the game against Liverpool, with Lukic starting the move which led to Michael Thomas’s famous goal. In the summer of 1990 Arsenal manager George Graham signed David Seaman from Queens Park Rangers – Seaman had been Lukic’s understudy at Leeds. This outraged many Arsenal fans at the time, especially as Lukic was a fan favourite. On his departure, Graham commented “I still think John Lukic is one of the best keepers in the country; I just think David Seaman is the best”. Having played 277 times for the Gunners, Lukic rejoined Leeds for £1million, playing a further 265 times and winning a second League title in 1991–92 and a runners up medal in the League Cup in 1995–96. Lukic was displaced at Leeds by the signing of Nigel Martyn, and in 1996 he returned for a second spell at Arsenal. As deputy to David Seaman, he played 15 times in 1996–97 as cover, but after the signing of Alex Manninger in 1997 he stepped down to No. 3. However, with Manninger injured, Lukic was on the bench for Arsenal’s 2000 UEFA Cup Final loss to Galatasaray, earning him a runners-up medal. In 2000, after a series of injuries to the club’s other ‘keepers, he made a brief return to the first team, playing four times. The last of these four games, against Derby County, was a month shy of his 40th birthday; another one of these, a match against Lazio on 17 October 2000 made him, at the time, the oldest player ever to take part in a UEFA Champions League match. This has since been surpassed by Danny Verlinden, Alessandro Costacurta and Marco Ballotta. He retired in 2001 and now coaches part-time. He has won the league with two different clubs, a feat he shares with fellow professionals such as Nicolas Anelka, Eric Cantona, Carlos Tevez, Ashley Cole, and Kevin Richardson. He is one of possibly four players to have played in the top flight of English football in four separate decades, the other players to attain this achievement are Peter Shilton, Steve Ogrizovic and Stanley Matthews.