Sinisa Mihajlovic's 45 Years Of Controversy

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
Share this article

Sinisa Mihajlovic turns 45 today. Football's most distinguished war criminal admiring, Serb nationalist was renowned his jet fueled, thunder-bolt free kicks, his extremely tempestuous personality and his flirtation with racism.

About 10 years ago, Channel 4 did a fairly sensationalist football series entitled 'Bad Boys' (I say 'series', it was two shows. One for players from the domestic league, mainly from Britain and Ireland, and one for Johnny Foreigner). Mihajlovic was the automatic choice at full back. He was also, rather excessively described as a "genius."

His tenaciously held affection for Serbian war criminal, Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan.

Mihajlovic was a friend of the Serbian war criminal, who was on Interpol's most wanted list throughout the 70s and 80s, and later created mayhem as the leader of the paramilitary group, 'Arkan's Tigres' during the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s. Mihajlovic insisted that to him, Arkan was just a football fan and friend. He was the leader of the Djelke, the Red Star Belgrade 'firm', a football hooligan who became politically influential.

When he was assassinated in 2000, Mihaljovic asked the Lazio supporters to unveil a banner honouring the war criminal. The Lazio fans, ever eager to do something tasteless and controversial, were happy to oblige.

This dicey battle with a similarly young Igor Stimac in 1991

Stimac was with Dynamo Zagreb, Mihajlovic was with Red Star Belgrade. The teams met against the backdrop of escalating Croatian War of Independence. Chris Etchingham takes up the story

Prior to kick off the usual pre match rituals were observed between captains, in this case Mihajlovic and Igor Stimac. Both had known each other since they were children and Stimac was an ethnic Croat. The two had often gotten on well together despite their peer groups not wishing the two to mix; they both had their passion for football in common and spent a lot of time together. This time was different however, the war had changed everything and as the two captains greeted each other, Stimac leaned towards Mihajlovic and hissed “I hope our guys kill your entire family in Borovo”. Outraged, Mihajlovic spent the match chasing Stimac trying to wreak revenge. Eventually the pair got sent off and when the two teams met at a later date, Mihajlovic was again sent off.

That dashing mask he sported for a few years

Mihajlovic wore a strange mask across his face in the latter part of his career, which made him look like a category A prisoner in a maximum security prison.

Racism towards Patrick Vieira

Mihajlovic lobbed a racial insult at Vieira at the end of a Champions League match. He was almost prosecuted under incitement to racial hatred, claimed he was only responding to Vieira calling him a gypsy and ultimately agreed to read out a full apology to the crowd at the Olympic Stadium before the next match. The Lazio crowd lost some respect for him after this incident. The apology that is.

Spitting at Jens Jeremies

Mihaljovic showed incredible flair with this spit. Unlike Frank Rijkaard's iconic spits at Rudi Voeller in the 1990 World Cup, both of which could be seen from space, the cameras didn't initially pick up this spit. Only one camera angle was able to catch it. It takes a special talent to spit in such a covert manner.

It would be remiss not to recall...

It wasn't all controversy. He knew how to belt a free kick and some fairly sublime scorchers.


Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by