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Radomir Antic - former Atletic...
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Radomir Antic - former Atletico Madrid head coach - dies aged 71

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

20:16 6 Apr 2020

Radomir Antic - the only man to serve as head coach at Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid has died at the age of 71. 

Atletico confirmed the news on their website this evening.

Current Atleti president Miguel Angel Gil said of Antic's passing, "With the loss of Radomir, a bit of the heart of the club goes away.

"With him I personally learned to win, with him I learned to live with passion the details that they make you better as a man and as a professional."

Born in Ziliste in Serbia in 1948, Antic would forge an impressive playing career for himself beginning at Sloboda Titovo Užice (now Sloboda Uzice), before establishing himself at Partizan Belgrade.

He then pogoed around Europe, starting with his 1976 move to Turkish side Fenerbahce, Real Zaragoza in Spain (1978-80) and then Luton Town where he became a folk hero.

Antic's goal for the Hatters away to Manchester City in May of 1983 secured their First Division survival, and led to a famous jig across the Maine Road turf from Luton boss David Pleat.

Speaking ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Antic remembered that moment fondly, "Sometimes I look on YouTube just to see that goal and to see David Pleat running on the pitch. It was a fantastic day for us and Luton. They don't forget me."

It was that World Cup that gave Antic an added dose of pride.

He was in charge of his native Serbia and was leading them into their first World Cup since they gained independence, "It gives me great pleasure and it is a chance to do something very special for my country and for the image Serbia has," he said at the time.

The bulk of his managerial career had come before his 2008 appointment as Serbia boss - and exclusively in Spain.

In his first season in charge at Real Zaragoza in 1988-89 he led them to a fifth place finish and qualification for the UEFA Cup.

His success at Zaragoza led him to succeeding the great Alfredo Di Stefano as Real Madrid head coach in March of 1991.

At the Bernabeu, he developed the likes of Fernando Hierro from being a centre-half to a goal-scoring midfielder.

He signed future Barcelona and Spain head coach Luis Enrique from Sporting Gijon and acquired European Cup winner Robert Prosinecki from Red Star Belgrade.

He turned a side who were languishing in seventh in La Liga to qualifiers for the UEFA Cup. And the next season, league leaders.

But Leo Beenhakker's installation as director of football coincided with a dip in form, and despite still holding a seven-point lead and a UEFA Cup quarter final spot - Antic was sacked after just 18 games.

Following his departure, Real threw away their lead in the table and lost in the UEFA Cup semi-finals to Torino.

After a spell out of the game, Antic was handed the reins at Atletico Madrid - a club he would go on to manage on three separate occasions and with whom he'd enjoy his greatest successes.

In his very first season in charge at the Vicente Calderon, he led Atleti to the league and cup double with a side that contained current boss Diego Simeone.

Antic's leading scorer that year was the Bulgarian Lubo Penev, who had battled back into the game following a bout with testicular cancer.

The following season, having pressed club president Jesus Gil to sign 19-year old Ronaldo from PSV, he instead got Juan Esnaider and still led Atletico to a Champions League quarter-final defeat to Ajax.

The following summer Atletico and Antic did spend big on Christian Vieri and Juninho, but a seventh placed finish that season led to Antic's first departure in the summer of 1998.

His first return to Atletico came in 1999, when he was asked to steady the ship. He led them to a Copa del Rey final before being replaced by the man who engineered their final defeat in Seville - Claudio Ranieri.

His third spell at Atletico came after Ranieri's sacking, but it was to be his most disappointing.

Antic took over in February of 2000 with the club 17th in La Liga, but couldn't save them from relegation. He was sacked with one game of the season remaining.

A creature of habit, Antic returned to Real Oviedo where he controversially signed Stan Collymore and was again relegated.

In 2003 came his most surprising appointment. With Barcelona languishing in 15th spot in La Liga, Louis van Gaal was sacked and replaced by Antic.

Players who would become cornerstones of the Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guariola reigns like Andres Iniesta and Victor Valdes were promoted to the first team. Xavi was pushed further forward, and Barca started winning again.

They eventually finished sixth in La Liga and were beaten in the Champions League quarter finals by Marcello Lippi's Juventus. In the summer of '03 Antic was replaced by Rijkaard.

A spell at Celta Vigo followed before he managed to take charge of his country.

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