Siniša Mihajlović was a Serbian professional football manager and former footballer. During his career as a footballer, he played as a defender or midfielder. He has 63 caps and scored 10 goals for Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2003, of which his first four caps in 1991 represented SFR Yugoslavia, and played in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000 tournaments. Considered by many to be among the best free kick takers of all time, he holds the all-time record in Serie A for most goals from free-kicks with 28 goals. He was the coach of the Serbia national football team from May 2012 to November 2013, and holds an Italian passport. Born in Vukovar into a working-class family of a Serb father from Bosnia and Croat mother, Mihajlović was raised in Borovo Naselje with a younger brother, Dražen. Their father Bogdan was a truck driver, while their mother Viktorija worked in a shoe factory. Mihajlović identifies as Serb, but has said that he views Croatia as his country as well. Throughout his late teens, Mihajlović was part of the Yugoslav golden generation that ended up winning the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile, however, he was not selected in the team that head coach Mirko Jozić took to the tournament. During the Croatian War of Independence, his home was destroyed by Croatian forces, among whom was his childhood best friend, an ethnic Croat, forcing his parents to flee. His maternal uncle called his mother and said that she should stay in Borovo, while her husband, Siniša’s father, was to be killed. When the Serbian Volunteer Guard took over Borovo they captured the uncle, and found Siniša’s number in his address book; Siniša was called and asked if they were relatives – he had him saved. In a 2016 interview Mihajlović said he had forgiven his childhood friend in a meeting in Zagreb prior to the crucial Euro 2000 qualification match between FR Yugoslavia and Croatia. On 13 July 2019, Mihajlović publicly announced in a press conference he was diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia, with sporting director Walter Sabatini confirming Mihajlović would stay in charge of the club nonetheless. Mihajlović died on 16 December 2022 in a Rome clinic following complications of leukaemia. He was 53.
Cagliari vs Internazionale
Match Worn Shirt
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This shirt was worn by Sinisa Mihajlovic during the Tim Cup semi final game between Cagliari and Internazionale which took place in Cagliari, “Stadio Sant’Elia”, on May 12th 2005. Internazionale draw 1-1 and at the end of the game Mihajlovic gave his shirt to an Internazionale’s doctor whom we got it from. In the summer 2004, 35-year-old Mihajlović was released from Lazio and joined his friend and former teammate Roberto Mancini at Internazionale on a free transfer, signing a one-year deal. On 16 June 2005 Mihajlović signed a one-year extension. On 9 April 2006, in a league away game versus Ascoli, Mihajlović scored his 27th career free-kick goal in the Serie A championship. Mihajlović ended his playing career after the 2005–06 season, aged 37, having one Serie A championship, two Coppa Italia trophies and a Supercoppa Italia title as an Inter player.
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Mihajlović developed and fostered a reputation as a hard-nosed, tough-tackling player with a short fuse and no fear. As such he has had many physical and verbal run-ins with opposing players that occasionally spilled outside of the pitch. Already known as someone who did not back away from physical play, the 22-year-old was one of the main protagonists of the ill-tempered 1991 Yugoslav Cup Final between Red Star and Hajduk Split on 8 May 1991. Although of secondary importance to Red Star, which was getting ready for the European Cup Final three weeks later, the match still featured a degree of tension due to pitting a Serb side against a Croat one in an atmosphere of inter-ethnic incidents between Croats and Croatian Serbs in eastern Slavonia and Dalmatia regions of SR Croatia, including Mihajlović’s hometown Borovo that saw a deadly incident only six days before the final. Early into the match Hajduk’s 23-year-old defender Igor Štimac and Mihajlović got into frequent verbal altercations, and according to Mihajlović during one of their exchanges Štimac told him: ‘I hope our guys kill all of your family in Borovo’. Fueling Mihajlović’s rage further was the fact that due to the phone service interruptions, he had not heard from his parents in more than a week, and he admitted to spending the rest of the match targeting Štimac in an attempt to injure him severely. Štimac also didn’t back down and the two exchanged plenty of reckless tackles as their private duel became a sideshow to the entire final. In the 70th minute Mihajlović slid in for a hard bone-crunching tackle on another Hajduk player Grgica Kovač that led to play temporarily being stopped as both sets of players confronted each other. Mihajlović was led away by Hajduk player Ante Miše (the two knew each other from before since they’re both from Borovo) who grabbed him by the hair while Red Star’s Ilija Najdoski grabbed Hajduk’s Slaven Bilić by the hair and dragged him around the pitch after Štimac ran the length of the pitch and jumped into the fracas with a raised fist attempting to punch Najdoski. Mihajlović received a second yellow for the challenge on Kovač, and the referee Adem Fazlagić also gave Štimac a second yellow, which meant both players got sent off. A month later on 5 June 1991, Red Star and Hajduk played another match, this time in the league. It was Red Star’s first league match after becoming European champions a week earlier in Bari. The match was of no competitive importance as Red Star were already league champions elect while Hajduk was lagging far behind in eight place, but that didn’t stop Mihajlović and Štimac from continuing their personal duel in another incident-filled match with Mihajlović getting sent off again. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup Yugoslavia versus Germany group stage match, Jens Jeremies squared up to Mihajlović following a rough challenge by the Yugoslav and the two exchanged verbal insults. Though at first glance everything ended there, television camera from another angle caught Mihajlović spitting in the German’s face. Later that year in November, during the Lazio at FK Partizan Cup Winners’ Cup second round return leg, thirty-year-old Mihajlović had a match-long battle with twenty-year-old striker Mateja Kežman. Playing old cross-town rivals in front of large home crowd seemed to provide extra motivation for Mihajlović. By Euro 2000, Mihajlović’s temper was well noted in the football world and he showed lack of control again during the opening group stage match versus Slovenia. Three minutes after gifting Slovenia a 0–3 lead when his cross-field pass got intercepted by Zlatko Zahovič, frustrated Mihajlović first got a yellow card for hacking down a Slovenian player as they jostled for position while going up for a high ball. Mere seconds later, as tempers flared and Sašo Udovič and Albert Nađ exchanged insults, a completely rattled Mihajlović needlessly approached Udovič, giving him a slight petulant push. Udovič theatrically fell to the ground, resulting in Mihajlović receiving another yellow card from Portuguese referee Vítor Pereira thus getting himself sent off. Ten-man Yugoslavia still managed to come back in the last 30 minutes to tie the score 3–3. Several months later, in October 2000, Mihajlović raised a storm of controversy due to his alleged racist remarks directed at Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira. The incident occurred during the ill-tempered Lazio versus Arsenal UEFA Champions League match on 17 October 2000 at Stadio Olimpico. Throughout the match Mihajlović had run-ins with several Arsenal players including Martin Keown and Robert Pires, but things really boiled over after the final whistle as Mihajlović and Vieira were seen trading insults and trying to get at one another physically before being restrained by teammates. After the match Vieira spoke to the media, accusing Mihajlović of racist abuse, specifically remarks that were revealed to be “nero di merda” (black piece of shit) or “fucking black monkey.” Mihajlović subsequently apologized, but contended that his words were in retaliation to Vieira’s remarks, calling Mihajlović a “zingaro di merda” (Gypsy piece of shit). Two months later in December 2000, Mihajlović came under police investigation over the event for possibly violating an anti-racism law in Italy. Italian investigators planned on using Mihajlović’s own post-game admission that he insulted Vieira to file charges that he violated a 1993 law that criminalizes the “spreading … of ideas based on racial or ethnic superiority or hate”, however nothing ever came of it. Six years later Mihajlović and Vieira became part of the same team when the Senegalese-born Frenchman joined Inter where freshly retired from playing Mihajlović was already named assistant to head coach Roberto Mancini. By all accounts, the former on-pitch adversaries got along very well during their two years together at San Siro. Vieira even came as one of the guests for Mihajlović’s testimonial match on 28 May 2007 in Novi Sad. On 7 November 2003, Mihajlović received an eight match suspension by UEFA for spitting at and kicking Chelsea’s Adrian Mutu during a Champions League group stage match. Some six and a half years later, Mihajlović became the head coach of Fiorentina, where Mutu was playing at the time. Even in the twilight of his playing career at Inter, 36-year-old Mihajlović stuck to his physical defensive style, getting into memorable tussles with Juve’s 23-year-old rising superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović during the Derby d’Italia.
Match Worn Boots
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Early into playing career, Mihajlović marked himself out with an extraordinary long-distance striking, crossing, and passing ability. His precise curling yet hard-driven left-footed shot allowed him to score spectacular free-kick goals on regular basis. A set-piece and penalty kick specialist, Mihajlović has said that he shot free-kicks from as far as 35 yards, adding in a 2000 interview with BBC Sport: “I like to shoot with a swerve into both sides of the net. I often try scoring directly from the corners.”. He was capable of both scoring and creating chances from dead ball opportunities, and holds the record for the most goals in Serie A from free-kicks, alongside Andrea Pirlo, with 28 goals. Along with Giuseppe Signori, he is one of only two players who have scored a hat-trick from free kicks in Serie A, a feat which he accomplished during his time with Lazio, in a 5–2 win over Sampdoria during the 1998–99 season. During his club career in Yugoslavia with FK Vojvodina and Red Star Belgrade as well as during his early spell at Roma, he played on the left side of midfield as winger, or as an attacking midfielder on occasion. Upon moving to Italy, Roma coach Carlo Mazzone deployed him as a defensive midfielder, although his performances in this position were somewhat inconsistent due to his limited tactical sense; midway through his first season in Italy, he was moved to the position of left back by new head coach Vujadin Boškov. In 1994, after transferring to Sampdoria under head coach Sven-Göran Eriksson, Mihajlović was moved to the centre of the team’s defensive line, and remained in this position for the rest of his career. He later excelled in this newfound centre back role, due to his consistent defensive displays, physique, and tenacity, as well as his good technique and long passing ability, drawing praise from Carlo Mazzone, in particular, who described him as one of the best players in the world in his position.