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Dejan Stankovic played at three World Cups for three different countries

The Inter Milan legend played through the breakup of Yugoslavia and Serbia's split from Montenegro

Take a couple of seconds to think about Dejan Stankovic.

Good, isn’t it?

You probably went straight to his Champions League volley against Schalke after 23 seconds from inside the centre-circle.

Against Manuel Neuer over all keepers…

But it may have slipped your memory that the Inter Milan legend played at three World Cups for three different countries.

In 1998, Stankovic was Yugoslavia’s fresh-faced midfield maestro.

He was more attack-minded in his younger years and made the squad having scored 21 goals in all competitions for Red Star Belgrade in the season leading up to the tournament.

Lazio had already agreed to sign him for the 1998/99 season

AP:Associated Press
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Lazio had already agreed to sign him for the 1998/99 season

He came on as a substitute in Yugoslavia’s first group game against Iran and earned himself a spot in the starting line-up for following game against Germany.

And he only went and scored the opening goal in an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Edgar Davids scored a 92nd minute winner to eliminate Yugoslavia in the round of 16 in what what proved to be the last World Cup game in the country’s history…

Bring back purple international kits

EPA
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Bring back purple international kits

In 2003, the Yugoslavian national football team ceased to exist.

The side adopted the name Serbia and Montenegro, years after the breakup of Yugoslavia from a non-footballing perspective in the early 1990s.

In reality, nearly every player in the regular starting XI came from Serbia, including Belgrade-born Stankovic.

Tevez x Stankovic

Bongarts - Getty
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Tevez x Stankovic

After missing out on Japan and South Korea in 2002, the newly-named Serbia and Montenegro were drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ at the 2006 World Cup.

With Stankovic as captain, they lost all the three of their group games against Netherlands, Argentina and Ivory Coast.

The loss against Argentia was particularly painful as they lost 6-0 with a young Lionel Messi coming off the bench to score the sixth in the 88th minute.

When he was still wearing No19…

Bongarts - Getty
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When he was still wearing No19…

While the tournament was taking place, Montenegro and Serbia formally declared independence from each other.

Meaning that in 2010, Stankovic skippered Serbia in South Africa and became the only player in history to play at three World Cups for three different countries.

Ultimately, it was another miserable experience as Serbia finished bottom of Group D.

Another World Cup, another country for Dejan

Action Images - Reuters
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Another World Cup, another country for Dejan

However, they did get their first special World Cup moment when Milan Jovanovic scored what turned out to be a winner against the mighty Germany.

Stankovic hung up his boots in 2013, presumably because Belgrade showed no signs of declaring independence from the rest of Serbia.

He may not have excelled during the tournaments but he’ll always have a place in World Cup history.


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