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Dejan Petković

Dejan Petković
Full nameDejan Petković
Date of birth (1972-09-10) 10 September 1972 (age 48)
Place of birthMajdanpek, SFR Yugoslavia
HeightScript error: No such module "convert".
Playing positionAttacking midfielder
Youth career
1987FK Majdanpek
Senior career*
1988–1992Radnički Niš53(34)
1992–1995Red Star Belgrade132(38)
1995–1997Real Madrid5(0)
1996Sevilla (loan)8(1)
1997Racing Santander (loan)8(1)
2002–2003Vasco da Gama19(2)
2003Shanghai Shenhua22(7)
2004Vasco da Gama36(18)
2008Atlético Mineiro27(4)
National team
1995–1999FR Yugoslavia7(1)
Teams managed
2014–Atlético Paranaense U23

Dejan Petković (Serbian Cyrillic: Дејан Петковић, pronounced [dɛ̂jan pɛ̂tkɔv̞it͡ɕ]) (born 10 September 1972 in Majdanpek, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia) is a retired Serbian football player. In his native country he is widely known under the nickname Rambo while in Brazil he is known as Pet. He played seven times for the FR Yugoslavia, scoring one goal. Petkovic played for seven Brazilian clubs in his career, and was made an honorary consul of Serbia in Brazil.

Early life

Born to father Dobrivoje (traffic technician from Niš) and mother Milena (construction technician from Petrovac na Mlavi) who met in the small mining town of Majdanpek where they both arrived in search of work, young Dejan immediately took to football.[1]

Club career

Radnički Niš

Petković's playing career started in 1988 at Radnički Niš. In the same year, he met his future wife Violeta. He became the youngest player ever to play an official match in the history of old Yugoslav First League, debuting on 25 September 1988 when he was 16 years and 15 days old, against Željezničar Sarajevo[2] thus beating Mitar Mrkela's record by 1 day. Radnički ended up winning 4–0 in that match. Petković's age record has since been broken by Slavko Perović and Danijel Aleksić. Petković still helps his first club,[3] which has since then declined.

Red Star Belgrade

In July 1992, Petković was bought by Red Star Belgrade. Though not even 20 years of age, he arrived with a reputation as a skilled technical playmaker. As established Yugoslav internationals such as Dejan Savićević, Darko Pančev, Vladimir Jugović, and Siniša Mihajlović left the club during the same summer, Petković was given a first-team run straight away by new head coach Milan Živadinović, appearing in 30 league matches and scoring 5 goals in his first season in Belgrade.

He ended up staying with Red Star until December 1995 (three and a half seasons), winning two Yugoslav First League titles. His transfer to Real Madrid was principally agreed during summer 1995, but Red Star decided to hang on to him for the 1995–96 UEFA Cup where the club expected to do well after finally being allowed back on the European scene following years of sporting sanctions due to regional conflicts. However, Red Star was eliminated by Swiss club Neuchâtel Xamax in the preliminary round.

Real Madrid

In December 1995, 23-year-old Petković joined the Spanish giants Real Madrid. At the time of his arrival, the club was not where it wanted to be in the league, hovering just outside of the European spots in 6th and 7th place.

Playing under head coach Jorge Valdano, Rambo made his league debut on 17 December versus Celta de Vigo as a 65th minute sub for the legendary club veteran Míchel as Madrid won 1–0 at home. Petkovic would see action again on 3 January at home versus Real Valladolid — Madrid was comfortably 4–1 ahead when Valdano threw Petković on for Iván Zamorano in the 61st minute. What would turn out to be Petković's last appearance of the season for the club came the following week away at lowly CP Mérida — Real let the 0–2 lead slip by conceding two goals and in the 81st minute Valdano sent Petković in for Freddy Rincón in search of a goal, but the score stayed 2–2.

Within a fortnight Petković was loaned out to Sevilla before being able to have a first-team run during his one month at the Bernabeu.

Loan to Sevilla

Arriving to Estadio Sánchez Pizjuán in mid January 1996, Petković was once again parachuted into a club battling turmoil. Sevilla was barely above the relegation zone with head coach Juan Carlos Álvarez (already their second head coach of the season) on thin ice.

Juan Carlos gave his new Serbian acquisition his debut at home on 24 January vs Albacete as a starter. Playing upfront with Davor Šuker as strike partner, Petković had an average outing as Sevilla drew 1–1 with Castillan visitors, which cost head coach Juan Carlos his job. Four days later away at Real Sociedad, new head coach Víctor Espárrago gave Petković the starting assignment again alongside Šuker, but subbed him off for Ramón "Monchu" Suárez Del Valle early into the second half in the 53rd minute. The next week versus Racing de Santander, Petković was moved back into attacking midfileder role just behind Šuker and Monchu, however Sevilla again lost 0–1 while Petković got subbed off in the 59th minute. The following week Petković got relegated to the bench, only getting a bit part as an 89th minute sub as Sevilla improbably triumphed away at league-leaders Atletico Madrid, however the week after that he was back in the starting assignment.

Petković finished out the 1995–1996 La Liga season in Sevilla, appearing in 8 league matches (7 as a starter) and scoring 1 goal.


During summer 1996, Petković returned from the loan spell in Sevilla. The Real squad that he returned to was radically different from the one he left six months earlier: starting with new head coach Fabio Capello over to attack-minded left back Roberto Carlos from Inter Milan, right back Christian Panucci from AC Milan, attacking midfielder Clarence Seedorf from Sampdoria right down to the all new forward line with Petković's former team-mate Šuker from Sevilla, and fellow Yugoslav Predrag Mijatović from Valencia.

The competition for spots up front thus got even tougher. Despite having a reputation for cautious and defensive football, Capello played a three-man attack of Raúl, Mijatović, and Šuker, with Seedorf just behind them. It became clear that Capello was not counting on Petković, as he did not play a match until coming on as late substitute in the fourth match of the season.[4] A week later Petković came on as a late substitute at Real Oviedo[5] for his last Madrid appearance.

Loan to Santander

Petković got loaned out to Racing de Santander in January 1997. He then briefly returned to Real before being discovered by Vitória in a friendly tournament in which both clubs were involved.[3] along with Real Mallorca and Flamengo.


He joined Vitória along with Bebeto and Túlio Costa, the three signed for the club thanks to the sponsorship of Banco Excel.[6] In the rubro-negro baiano he started his successful Brazilian career, winning two Bahia State Championships and a Copa do Nordeste. He stayed until 1999 at Vitória, when he joined Venezia of Italy.


Petkovic did not succeed at Venezia, and quickly returned to Brazil, where he joined Flamengo of Rio de Janeiro. In Flamengo his skills were fundamental in helping the team win the last two titles of the historic three in a row series against arch-rivals Vasco, from 1999 to 2001. Felipe Melo, a Flamengo fan and later a Brazilian international, was quoted saying that "his amazing 89th minute free kick goal in the 2001 final match, which granted the title to Flamengo, shall never be forgotten".[citation needed]

One month later, another free kick goal by Petkovic, against São Paulo, allowed Flamengo to win the Copa dos Campeões and return to Copa Libertadores next year. Hugely popular at the time, he was known as "Pet" by the supporters.

However, at 2001 Campeonato Brasileiro, Flamengo finished only one position above the relegated teams. The club also lost, in January 2002, the Copa Mercosul final against the Argentine side San Lorenzo, in a match in which Petkovic was sent off.

Vasco da Gama

In 2002 he moved to Vasco da Gama, where he stayed until 2004. He played for a short time at the Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua during this period where he won the 2003 league title with them. Unfortunately in 2013 the Chinese Football Association would revoke the league title after it was discovered the Shenhua General manager Lou Shifang had bribed officials to be bias to Shenhua in games that season.[7][8] During his second spell at Vasco he helped his team avoid relegation at Campeonato Brasileiro, being the club's top scorer and top assistant.[9] Vasco failed to record a win the 10 matches without Petkovic, acquiring only 10% of available points; with him the cruzmaltinos obtained 45.7% of these points.[9] After helping them stay up, Petković was awarded Bola de Prata from the Placar magazine as one of the two best midfielders in the league.

During that year he often played with an ex-teammate from Radnički, Montenegrin goalkeeper Željko Tadić,[3] who was scouted by him.[10]

Third time in Brazil: Fluminense

After a half-year in Saudi Arabia, where he played for Al-Ittihad, he returned to Rio de Janeiro in August 2005, now to play for Fluminense. Already 33 years old, Petković had to face a certain mistrust from the club's fans due to his association with Flamengo. However, his amazing performance in his third match against Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, put an end to fan's misgivings, as he scored twice in a 6–2 away win. His first was the 1000th goal score by the Fluminense in the Brazilian Championship, earning Petković a commemorative plate in his honour at the club's headquarters. In this goal, Petkovic passed through three opponents in a short space, shooting just in time to avoid the incoming goalkeeper. In the second one, he placed a powerful left foot shot from outside the penalty box.[11]

After other great exhibitions, he received his second consecutive Silver Ball in the Brazilian federation annual award ceremony. After a bad season in 2006, when Fluminense had to fight relegation, he left the club.[10]

Other clubs

In 2007, he played at Santos after signing a short term deal from Goiás until the end of the 2007 season. In 2008, Petkovic played for Atlético Mineiro, signed in late March 2008 as the great star of the club'scentennial celebrations. Nevertheless, his contract was not renewed at the end of the season on orders from the newly arrived coach, Emerson Leão who previously also released Petković from Santos when he arrived there in December 2007.[12]

Return to Flamengo

On 20 May 2009 Flamengo announced the free transfer signing of Petkovic,[13] despite previously having taken the club to court over unpaid wages in the amount of US$9 million.[14] Though the two parties managed to settle the outstanding financial issues out of court prior to his signing, Petković's return was still met with a lot of scepticism, even outright opposition, from many people within the club as well as outside observers[15] all of whom had doubts about his ability to perform at such an age. Some also expressed concern over the fact that he missed the Rio de Janeiro state championship part of the season, meaning that he hadn't played any competitive football in the 6 months since his dismissal from Mineiro.

However, much to the surprise of many people, 37-year old Petkovic played a pivotal role for Flamengo, scoring 8 goals (including 2 direct from corners) and leading the club's challenge to eventually win its sixth Brazilian Championship title, the first of his career. He overcame being left out of the team by manager Cuca when his replacement in July, Jorge Luís Andrade, included him in the team and allowed him to help the club rise from 14th place. Petkovic was praised by the Brazilian press for a number of outstanding performances, including a brace he scored in round 30 for a 2–0 win[16] away at league leaders Palmeiras on 18 October 2009,[17][18][19] as well as his round 34 contribution on 8 November away at Atlético Mineiro where the team recorded important 1–3 win.[20]

On 20 November 2009 he was inducted into the Brazilian Hall of Fame in the Maracana,[21] thus becoming only the fifth non-Brazilian and third European to receive such an honour in Brazil. Then on 7 December, as the season finished and Flamengo celebrated theirtitle, Petković won the traditional Bola de Prata (Silver Ball) organized by the sports magazine Placar and ESPN Brasil for best midfielder of the 2009 Brazilian Championship. It was the third time that he was awarded the prize.

Starting the new season from the very beginning, Petkovic entered his first match of the 2010 Rio state championship as a late substitute and scored a goal[22] on what was virtually his first touch of the contest at Volta Redonda on 20 January 2010.[23]

On 5 June 2011, Petković retired as a professional player after playing the first half of the league match against Corinthians. To commemorate his retirement, all Flamengo players had Petkovic's name on the back of their jerseys in the match.

International career

Petković debuted for FR Yugoslavia in 1995, but only played a few matches due to disagreements with then coach Slobodan Santrač. Santrač additionally did not call him for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. It was only after Milan Živadinović took the helm of the Yugoslavia national team that Petković earned another chance with his national side, curiously, in a friendly against Brazil in September 1998. Playing for EC Vitória at the time, Petković traveled to São Luís in the same flight as the Brazilian team.[24]

His last match for Yugoslavia was in December 1999, while at Venezia, with him as captain.[2] Some also blame Petković's few and far in between call-ups on the fact he defended South American sides most of his career, and thus was not always readily available for Yugoslavian coaches to watch him perform, evidenced by the fact he was omitted by Vujadin Boškov from the Euro 2000 roster after returning to Brazil to defend Flamengo. Furthermore, Petković declared in an interview to Placar magazine that he was more likely to get a call-up had he stayed at Venezia, a club he regarded as "ten times weaker club than Flamengo".[2] Petković was also rumoured to not have very favorable relationships with the Football Association of Yugoslavia, yet another speculation for his few caps.[3]

Some have even felt Petković would have made the seleção if he were Brazilian. To that end, after the fragmentation of the former Yugoslavia he planned to request Brazilian citizenship to have a shot at defending the Seleção.[25]

A 2006 campaign in Serbia,[26] urged the Serbian FA to select Petković for Serbia's final roster for the World Cup in Germany. Striker Savo Milošević even went as far as saying Petković would be a welcome addition[27] but nothing ever came of it. Serb coach Ilija Petković thought he would disrupt the team's harmony, as he had a reputation for having a very loud personality.

Petković retired from professional football without ever defending the White Eagles.

Playing style

He is considered one of the best foreign players to have played in Brazil, a great free and corner kicker and passer. In 2006 while playing for Fluminense, he scored a goal directly from a corner against Grêmio. In the next game he scored another, but the ball hit the hand of a player from Fluminense and entered the goal; nonetheless the officials counted it as one. Overall he scored eight goals from corner kicks in his career, the last one on 8 November 2009 for Flamengo against Atlético Mineiro in the Brazilian Série A. He is currently the record holder for most goals from corners scored in football history.[citation needed]


  • His form in the first half of 2001 preceded the arrival of five more Serbs to Brazilian football. Željko Tadić (who would play later with Petkovic at Vasco), Miodrag Anđelković, Nikola Damjanac, Vladimir Đorđević, Dejan Osmanović, and Vladimir Petković (unrelated to Dejan Petkovic).[28]
  • In November 2009, following Petković's pinnacle season at Flamengo, Serbian film director Darko Bajić started shooting a documentary on Petković's life and career path. Initially with the working title of Rambo Petković – 90 minuta sa produžecima, životni meč and later O Gringo, the film is meant to be shown before the 2010 World Cup.[29] Apparently, the director wanted to make the film ever since Petković's initial successes with Flamengo in 2001, but the player wasn't thrilled with the idea. Petković eventually agreed during his second stint with Flamengo. The yet unfinished movie was promoted in Belgrade on 29 December 2009.[30]
  • His pivotal role in Flamengo's road to its sixth league title motivated a pop song, "É o Pet".
  • Although his return home to possibly finish out his career with Red Star and/or perhaps take an administrative role in the club once his playing career is over was occasionally mentioned in Serbian media, Petković said in early 2010 that he'll continue living in Brazil even after stopping playing. Though not mentioning anything specific, he said that he wants to take advantage of the opportunities 2014 World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics will provide for those who want to be involved with sports.[31]



Red Star Belgrade

Real Madrid



Shanghai Shenhua

Vasco da Gama

Al Ittihad


Orders and special awards

  • EC Vitória's Player of the Twentieth Century (by popular vote)
  • Scored the thousandth goal of Fluminense FC in the Campeonato Brasileiro (v. Cruzeiro, on 7 September 2005)
  • Scored the most Olympic goals ever by a professional footballer: 8
  • Nominated to the Maracanã Walk of Fame
  • Named Honorary Citizen of Rio de Janeiro by the State Legislative Assembly

Diplomatic career

On 20 June 2010, Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vuk Jeremić, announced the appointment of Dejan Petković to Honorary Consul of Serbia in Brazil.[32][33][34][35][36]


  1. ^ Prvo sam potrčao za loptom pa prohodao, Blic, January 3, 2010
  2. ^ a b c "A boa vida dos gringos", Placar nº. 1239, September 2002, Editora Abril, pp. 48–49
  3. ^ a b c d "Petkovício", Rafael Maranhão, Placar nº. 1289, December 2005, Editora Abril, pp. 62–67
  4. ^ Real Madrid-Rayo Vallecano 1:0;La Liga, 22 September 1996
  5. ^ Real Oviedo-Real Madrid 2:3;La Liga, 29 September 1996
  6. ^ "500 Times do Brasil", Placar nº. 1263-A, October 2003, Editora Abril, pp. 20
  7. ^ "Details of soccer referee investigation released to public". 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  8. ^ "China Strips Shenhua of 2003 League Title, Bans 33 People for Life". 18 February 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  9. ^ a b "Salvo pelo gringo", Placar nº. 1278-A, January 2005, Editora Abril, pp. 53
  10. ^ a b "Vai dar suco?", Lédio Carmona, Placar nº. 1292, March 2006, Editora Abril, pp. 73
  11. ^ "Petkovic – O gringo mais brasileiro", Sérgio Xavier Filho, Placar nº. 1287, October 2005, Editora Abril, pp. 16
  12. ^ Santos dispensa Petkovic, Baiano e Leonardo
  13. ^ Serbian midfielder Petkovic returns to Flamengo
  14. ^ Serbian midfielder Petkovic returns to Flamengo; AOL News, 21 May 2009
  15. ^ Dejan Petković is back
  16. ^ Palmeiras-Flamengo 0:2, October 18, 2009
  17. ^ Brasileirão Round 30 or Dejan Petkovic is an Unstoppable Force of Nature!
  18. ^ Dejan Petkovic (Flamengo) scores a brace v Palmeiras
  19. ^ Petkovic brilha e Flamengo bate Palmeiras por 2 a 0;, 18 October 2009
  20. ^ Atlético Mineiro-Flamengo 1:3, November 8, 2009
  21. ^ Dejan Rambo Petković ušao u "Kuću slavnih" na Marakani!
  22. ^ Petkovic for 1–3 at Volta Redonda
  23. ^ Rambo Petković – prvi kontakt u sezoni i gol!; Blic, 21 January 2010
  24. ^ Folha Online: O injustiçado Petkovic e a seleção
  25. ^ "Pátria amada, Brasil", Flávia Ribeiro, Placar nº. 1274, September 2004, Editora Abril, pp. 50–53
  26. ^ JB Online: A chance de Petkovic
  27. ^ Petkovic teria lugar na seleção
  28. ^ Onde a Coruja Dorme: Eles fizeram o caminho inverso
  29. ^ Darko Bajić danas putuje u Brazil – Snimiću životnu priču Ramba Petkovića, Blic, November 2, 2009
  30. ^ Dejan Petković – "O Gringo"; B92, 29 December 2009
  31. ^ Rambo Petković: „Uživam u fudbalu“, B92, January 5, 2010
  32. ^ Српски фудбалер Дејан Петковић постаће један од почасних конзула у Бразилу, најавио је министар Вук Јеремић
  33. ^ Serbie-Brésil: Un joueur de foot nommé consul
  34. ^ Petković postaje počasni konzul u Brazilu
  35. ^ Rambo Petković počasni konzul Srbije u Brazilu
  36. ^ Petković počasni konzul u Brazilu

External links