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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Sinisa Mihajlovic

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Sinisa Mihajlovic was born in Vukovar in former Yugoslavia on February 20, 1969, he started his footballing career in the youth teams of Borovo where he grew up. He was particularly well known for his ability on free kicks. In 1986 he signed for Vojvodina where he played for two years before the big move to Red Star Belgrade.

Sinisa Mihajlovic was born in Vukovar in former Yugoslavia on February 20, 1969, he started his footballing career in the youth teams of Borovo where he grew up. He was particularly well known for his ability on free kicks. In 1986 he signed for Vojvodina where he played for two years before the big move to Red Star Belgrade.


Red Star had been keeping an eye on him for years and had failed to sign him when he was a teenager. Now at 21, Sinisa joined a club that had a number of interesting players such as Dejan Savicevic, Robert Prosinečki, Vladimir Jugovic and Darko Pancev. In his first season he won the European Cup and scored two decisive goals in the semi final against Bayern Munich. In his second year he won the Intercontinental Cup in the final against Colo Colo.


In the summer of 1992, he was about to go to Juventus but new Roma manager Vujadin Boskov convinced him to join the Giallorossi. It was not a good year for Roma, Mihajlovic was forced to play left back and did not play as well as he could. Boskov left after a season and in came Carletto Mazzone who continued to play Sinisa as left back. Another bad year.


An unhappy Mihajlovic was glad to join Sampdoria in 1994. Under manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, he started playing in central defence. Eriksson wanted to exploit Sinisa’s ability to build and organise play from the back. His long and precise passes to the forwards, especially to Roberto Mancini, from his own half were a trademark that Sampdoria often used. Furthermore, Sinisa was great at free kicks and corners, other tools that Sampdoria used in abundance. He played for 4 seasons in Genoa, 128 total appearances and 15 goals.


After a year at Lazio, Eriksson and Mancini asked President Sergio Cragnotti to sign Mihajlovic, and Sinisa from being a great player turned into a legendary one. Pairing up with Alessandro Nesta at the centre of Lazio’s defence, allowed him a freedom of movement that became lethal at times. Goals and assists from spot kicks were trademarks of Eriksson’s Lazio. Every time there was a free kick or a corner, there was a scoring opportunity, which got even better with the arrival of Juan Sebastian Veron in 1999.

In his six years at Lazio, Sinisa played 193 games (126 in Serie A, 22 in Coppa Italia, 27 in Champions League, 9 in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, 6 in the UEFA Cup, two in the Super Coppa finals and one UEFA Super Cup) and scored 33 goals (20 in Serie A, 6 in Coppa Italia, 6 in Champions League and one in the Super Coppa).


He won a scudetto, the Coppa Italia twice, an Italian SuperCoppa, a UEFA Cup Winners Cup and a UEFA Super Cup.


His stay at Lazio was at times difficult. He was booed by the fans for a while and got an 8-match ban for having spat at Adrian Mutu (the Romanian has never been a friend of Lazio’s and is well known to be as pleasant as sand in your underpants). He however won the fans back and became immensely popular, fans rising to their feet every time he took a corner. Lazio fans will also never forget that he scored Lazio’s first goal in Champions League (vs Bayern Leverkusen on September 14 1999), scored a hat trick on free kick (vs Sampdoria on December 13 1998) and a memorable winning goal at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea on March 22 2000.


He was strong, had a great sense of position and was able to read the game like no other. What he lacked in defensive abilities, he made up for by being a playmaker who built Lazio’s game from the back. Often journalists used to ask him “who is better at free kicks, you or Roberto Carlos?” “He was good, very good, but I was better” he would always reply.


With the crumbling of Cragnotti’s financial empire, Mihajlovic left Lazio and joined Mancini at Inter. President Claudio Lotito had asked him to stay but Lazio could not afford to keep him. He played two years at Inter, though his contribution in the last season was minimal, after which he quit football.


He played 63 times for his country with ten goals, 4 times for Yugoslavia before the civil war, 58 times for the Yugoslavian Federation and once for Serbia. He participated in the World Cup of 1998 and Euro 2000.


He started his managerial career as assistant coach to Mancini at Inter where he won two scudetti and a Super Coppa. He then went on to be head coach at Bologna in 2008 replacing Daniele Arrigoni. He was sacked in April 2009. In December 2009 he was called to Catania and was able to keep them in Serie A the first year and get the club’s point record in the second.


He was chosen by Fiorentina in 2010. His first year was not a good one but he was confirmed, only to be sacked in November 2011. In 2012 he was the new head coach of Serbia but he failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and came back to Italy to manage Sampdoria. He stayed for two years before joining Milan in 2015. With Milan he did not do too badly and reached the final of the Coppa Italia but then following a string of bad results, he was sacked in April 2016.


In 2016 he managed Torino, doing very well in the first half of the season and not so well in the second half but was confirmed for the 2017-18 season only to be sacked in January. In July 2018 he became manager at Sporting Lisbon but was fired after just 9 days.


In January 2019 he substituted Pippo Inzaghi at Bologna and guided the club to safety. After being confirmed as manager he announced that he had leukaemia but he continued to manage the team. Bologna never reached exceptional heights but always had a safe journey in Serie A. After a bad start to the 2022-23 season and the return of the illness, the Bologna management decided to give the reins of the squad to Thiago Motta.


Sinisa died in Rome on December 15, 2022. A very sad day for all Lazio fans.


“A great Laziale, a warrior on the pitch and in life. His courage on the field was second only to what he showed in facing this serious illness”, said Claudio Lotito in a statement. “This warrior with a great heart will remain in the history of Lazio not only for having been Italian Champion, but for the message of hope in facing difficulty that he represented up until his last moments”.


Mihajlovic always remained a Lazio fan as he often stated in interviews. The last time he came to play Lazio as Bologna manager in August 2022, after the 2-1 defeat he was asked how upset he was and he replied that as a Lazio fan he was never as upset as losing against other teams.


Sinisa is now guiding Lazio’s defence in heaven alongside Giuseppe Wilson and under the guidance of Tommaso Maestrelli. Giorgio Chinaglia and Silvio Piola will be sure to benefit.


Official SS Lazio photo

Lazio Career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Cup Winners Cup

UEFA Cup

UEFA Super Cup

Super Coppa

1998-99

44 (9)

30 (8)

4 (1)

-

9

-

-

1

1999-00

46 (13)

26 (6)

7 (4)

12 (3)

-

-

1

-

2000-01

29 (8)

18 (4)

2 (1)

8 (2)

-

-

-

1 (1)

2001-02

10

6

2

2

-

-

-

-

2002-03

28 (1)

21 (1)

1

-

-

6

-

-

2003-04

36 (2)

25 (1)

6

5

-

-

-

-

Total

193 (33)

126 (20)

22 (6)

29 (6)

9

6

1

2 (1)


Sources


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