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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Manager Series: Alexander Popovic

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Alexander Popovic was Lazio manager for two seasons: 1941-42 reaching 5th place and 1942-43 with a 9th place finish.

Alexander Popovic is the first from the left, standing. Source Wikipedia

Popovic was born in Vienna on July 18, 1891. His football career was spent entirely in Vienna. He played for Austria Vienna from 1911 to 1924 with the exception of 1923-24 when he played for Rapid. His last year of active football was played for Wiener AC in 1924-25. He won the Austrian Championship twice (1923 with Rapid and 1924 with Austria Vienna) and the Austrian Cup twice (1921 and 1924, both with Austria Vienna). He also played 33 games (with one goal) for the Austrian National Team.

Popovic began his managerial career at Hertha Berlin in 1925 and a season later moved across town to Minerva Berlin where he coached until 1930.

In 1941 he was chosen as new Lazio manager by President Remo Zenobi. There was hardly any money for transfers and the only signing was Lorenzo Borici. Lazio did not do too badly. At the end of the first half of the season they were 9th, not too far off the relegation zone (+3) but not that far off fourth place either (-3). They had beaten champions Bologna 5-1 and Triestina 5-0. In the second half of the season there were some prestigious wins against Ambrosiana Inter away, Juventus at home and a massive 5-2 win against Milano (the name had changed from Milan to a more Italian Milano since at the time all things with a foreign taste were Italianised) away from home. In the end they reached 5th place, on the same points as Genoa but with a lower goal quotient.

The 1942-43 season cannot have been an easy one, playing football with part of Europe involved in World War II. There was obviously not a lot of money for transfers so Popovich had to make do with what he had. During the season Lazio had many ups and downs. They managed to beat Juventus both at home and away, Inter, Roma, but lost many games with minor teams. Lots of goals scored but also lots of goals conceded. Lazio finished 9th.

Popovich left the Biancocelesti at the end of the season since war was approaching the Eternal City. In 1945-46 he was back in Italy and he coached Bologna but was sacked after 13 games. The next season he managed Pro Sesto in Serie B.

He died in Vienna on September 30, 1952.

With Lazio, Popovic will be remembered as the manager who put the legendary Silvio Piola back at the centre of the Biancoceleste attack. As a consequence Piola scored 21 goals in 26 games in 1941-42, and 21 in 22 matches the year after, winning his second trophy as Serie A top goal scorer.



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