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Dragoslav Šekularac (Serbian Cyrillic: Драгослав Шекуларац) (born November 30, 1937 in Štipmarker, Vardar Banovina, Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker) is a Serbianmarker former football player and coach.

Known locally by the nickname Šeki, he was quick and crafty with the ball, displaying creative skills that turned a lot of heads. Possessing supreme self-confidence along with impeccable technical ability, he was one of the biggest showmen and crowd draws in the history of Yugoslav football. His enormous popularity throughout FPR Yugoslaviamarker during early 1960s transcended sports as he easily became one of the most recognizable individuals in the country.

Šekularac is considered one of the most important players in the history of Red Star Belgrade, he is one of only five players to have been awarded the Zvezdine zvezde.

Šekularac is also remembered as the perpetrator of an infamous on-pitch incident in fall 1962, for which he served a year and a half long suspension.

In addition to the swelling of praise and accolades for his skills, he also attracted criticism over lack of team play and overall attitude on the pitch that some found to be disrespectful to the game. Others point to his lack of effectiveness and a seeming disproportion between his talent and his overall career statistics.

Early life

Šekularac was born to a Serbian father Bogoslav hailing from Vasojevići tribe in northern Montenegromarker and a mother Donka from Macedonia. His father was a lawyer whose job took him to Štip where he got married and started a family. Dragoslav was an infant when the family moved to Belgrade since his father got a job at the Ministry of Justice.

He took up football very early, right after World War II ended, and came up through the Red Star Belgrade youth system.

Club career

Red Star Belgrade

Šekularac made his senior debut at only 17 years of age on March 6, 1955 during the latter part of Red Star's 1954/55 league campaign under head coach Milovan Ćirić. The youngster would record only one more league appearance by the end of that season.

However, the next season, 1955/56, signaled immediate breakthrough. In addition to establishing himself as the first team player, he also became an integral part of the squad that won the Yugoslav league title in convincing fashion. He contributed to the cause with 7 goals in addition to many eye catching midfield displays that would soon become a staple of his game.

By the start of 1956/57 season, Šekularac already had a senior national team debut under his belt. And in November and December he represented FPR Yugoslaviamarker at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Despite added pressures and responsibilities, he turned in another stellar league season helping Red Star to another title. He also played an important part in Red Star's European Champions' Cup campaign that ended at semi-final stage versus AC Fiorentina.

All the success led to coach Ćirić receiving and taking SS Lazio head coaching offer. In his place came Miša Pavić who previously mentored Šekularac in the club's youth setup. The season was not much of a success, however, either team wise or for Šekularac individually. Increased opponents' defensive focus multiplied the number of hits and knocks he was forced to endure during games. He battled injury problems that caused him to miss almost half of the season as Red Star quickly fell out of title contention.

Though the next 1958/59 season brought continued injury issues, Šekularac, by now a bona fide star across the league, managed to lead his team to league-cup double, both at the expense of arch rival FK Partizan.

He ended up playing 375 official competitive matches (156 of those in the league) for Red Star and scoring over 119 goals (32 league goals). He later played for Independiente Santa Fe in Colombiamarker for five seasons, before transferring to Millonarios from Bogotámarker and ending his playing career in the Germanmarker Bundesliga with Karlsruher SC.

At only 18, he made his national team debut on September 30, 1956. He was on the national side that won the silver medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australiamarker, and also participated in the World Cups of 1958 and 1962. He went on to make 41 senior international appearances, scoring 6 goals.

As a coach, he was in front of several clubs in Colombiamarker, Australia, Serbiamarker, Mexicomarker, and Spainmarker. Between 1984 and 1985, he coached the Guatemala national team in the 1986 World Cup qualification process.

Šekularac recently retired, and is currently living in Belgrademarker, Serbiamarker.

Trivia

  • Šekularac is fluent in Portuguese and Serbian.
  • Šekularac was probably the first sports superstar in Yugoslavia whose fame transcended sporting bounds. The popularity he enjoyed during his playing heyday was such that he even starred in a 1962 full-length comedy feature Šeki snima, pazi se - a football-related movie built around his public persona.

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. Slao sam bekove „u jagode“, Blic, March 29, 2009

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