The UEFA Development Cup-2017 is under way in Armenia. Former football star Dejan Stankovic is among UEFA experst, who watch this tournament in Armenia. FFA official site had an exclusive interview with Dejan Stankovic on the Development Cup, Armenian football and his career.
-What are you busy with in UEFA?
-From 1st of March I am a football development adviser at UEFA and my job is the monitoring of U-14, U-15, U-16 tournaments and academy projects.
-Wasn’t it difficult to change your field of business from a player to UEFA employee?
- It was very difficult. We call it football, but being a player and working in football is quite different. Anyway, I am ready, I am very young and I want to learn. For me it’s a big opportunity and a great pleasure to work in UEFA, because in Serbia I was offered different high positions – to be a president of Serbian Football Federation, president of Red Star club, even president of Olympic committee, but I refused, because I am very young for these positions. I want to gain experience and UEFA is the best place in the world, for an ex-player, who wants to learn. I want to create my network and I want to go forward step by step.
-Didn’t you want to become a coach?
-I tried with Udinese Calcio, where I was the assistant coach to Andrea Stramaccioni. I don’t think it is for me. I don’t have a character for being a coach, because it means to live in football 24 hours a day. I am not ready for this.
-What is the aim of your visit to Armenia?
We came here to watch the Development Cup. UEFA does a very good job for the children, organizing such kind of tournaments in countries like Armenia, Georgia or FYR Macedonia. These tournaments are very important for future, for selecting good players, coaching, scouting. We try to help all little associations.
-What’s your opinion about the infrastructures you have seen in Armenia?
- You have a very nice sports centre, a lot of good pitches, with natural and artificial grass, everything for doing a good job. You have everything for achieving good results. You just have to work hard.
-You have played against Armenia? What impressed you most at that time?
-I don’t have good memories, because in that game we lost our chances to qualify for Euro-2008 (the match in Yerevan ended in a 0-0 draw). What I remember most, is the grass of very bad quality. It was one of the worst pitches I have ever seen. And now I am here after 10 years and I see a huge progress.
-Did u have opportunity to see matches of Armenian National team? What`s your opinion?
-Yes, I watched the matches of Armenian national team, when we were in the same group, and recently I watched the second half of the match against Montenegro. It was incredible, it was a really impressive performance from your team. You must always play like this.
-What do the countries like Armenia have to do to improve the quality of their performances and have chances to qualify for big tournaments?
- I will repeat once more. You have to work, work and work again. I don’t know the strategy of FFA, but you have to be systematic, starting from youth football and maintaining the same strategy in the professional level.
-Who is the best player from former Yugosolavia for last 30 years?
-It`s a very difficult question, because we had so many good players. I can name a lot of players. Dragan Stojkovic is probably the best. He had a lot of injuries, but he still had amazing skills. For me Nemanja Vidic was one of the best central defenders in last 20 years. If I have to mention anyone from Montenegro, it is, of course, Dejan Savicevic. From Croatia it is Modric, from Slovenia – Milenko Acimovic and Zlatko Zahovic. Finally from Bosnia and Herzegovina – it is Miralem Pjanic. I think he is one of the best players in last 20 years. He is a doctor.
-Who was the best player you`ve played along with?
- One of the best players was Sebastian Veron. Of course, one of them was Alessandro Nesta. Later in Internazionale Ibrahimovic was one of the best players. Adriano played in the highest level only for one year. But at that time for me he was the best player in the world. My generation was very strong, we won a lot of titles. I was lucky to play with players like Maicon, Diego Milio, Thiago Motta, Wesley Sneijder.
-Who was the best defender you have played against?
- Definitely, Paolo Maldini.
- Who was the most difficult goalkeeper to score against?
- Gianluiggi Buffon.
The most beautiful goal you`ve scored?
I have scored a lot of beautiful goals, but I can mention 2 of them against Manuel Neuer when Internazionale was playing against Schalke-04 and against Genoa.
The most important goal you`ve scored is?
Maybe, against AS Roma in Copa Italia semifinal. And another one I scored for Red Star Belgrade against Kaiserslautern, which was a very strong team at that period. This was my first big step, my first explosion.
You`ve played in 3 of most interesting European derbies. How can you describe them in some words?
The derby between Internazionale and AC Milan is not as tense as it was before. The players were friends out of field and we even used to spend weekends together. The derbies between AS Roma and Lazio were really tense, with a lot of pressure. But for me the derby between Partizan Belgrade and Crvena Zvezda was the most violent and most important, not only because of the fans, but also for me. Because I was a fan of Crvena Zvezda when I was a kid, and playing for the team is a feeling you cannot compare with anything.
-What is your biggest memory in football?
- Of course, it is the victory in Champions league. It’s like a present for any player for the job, he has done. You feel blessed when you win the Champions league. It’s an amazing feeling.