The Greatest Football Team In History
If only they had their shot.
Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia were once a single nation by the name of Yugoslavia. The country split up in the 1990s as a result of a series of conflicts that stretched for years.
When the country was in its existence, it participated in eight world cups and its best finish was in third place at the FIFA World Cup in 1930. They also finished fourth in 1962. The last World Cup which Yugoslavia entered was in 1990 and the team reached the quarter-final stage.
The country also finished second at the European Championship in 1960 and 1968. In 1991, the Red Star Belgrade won the European Cup, defeating a Marseille team.
While their country was tearing itself apart as a result of centuries of ethnic and religious divides.
The issues “began” in Slovenia, although in reality the Yugoslav War — what became an umbrella term for the wars in the Balkans throughout the 1990s — was almost inevitable when Josip Broz Tito died in 1980.
To understand the war in Yugoslavia, one must know Tito, nationalism in Yugoslavia had been ruthlessly repressed following the ascent to power of the communists after World War II. Tito had held together with the countries in the Balkans through his policy of ‘Brotherhood and Unity’. With the death of Tito, the glue that held the constituent nations of Yugoslavia was gone.
In the late 1980s, Slobodan Milosevic made his ascent to power. In 1987, Milosevic was sent to Kosovo in order to dispel a dispute between Serbs and Albanians. When Serbs told Milosevic that they had been beaten by the police he responded with:
“You will not be beaten ever again.”
By 1989 Milosevic was the president of Serbia and the most powerful man in Yugoslavia.
In Croatia, a powerful independence movement begun, spurred on by their own forms of nationalism. The pro-independence candidate Franjo Tudman was elected as president, bringing the Croatians directly into conflict with Serbia.
Matters began to accelerate. Slovenia left Yugoslavia and the Ten-Day War began. As the Croatian War of Independence developed, ethnic tensions from within Bosnia and Herzegovina blew up and Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Serbs, and Bosniaks all were at war with each other. The fighting was barbaric on all sides, with a large majority of the horrors and war crimes in the Yugoslav War being perpetrated in Bosnia.
By the end of the war in 1995, with the signing of a peace treaty, Yugoslavia as an idea of combining all Slavic states into one country, was dead.The nation continued to fall apart a leading to the current independent states of Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In a footballing sense, what occurred possibly robbed football of one of the greatest international teams the world would have ever seen.
My father is an avid football fan and. He belies in the ideology behind Yugoslavia up to this day.
In 1996 he went to watch Yugoslavia get beaten by the Czech Republic 0-5.
The dream team which defeated Brazil in 1990 played in the name of Yugoslavia and of all its citizens. Practically, they were Yugoslavia, no wonder no former Yugoslav nation even took part at Euro 92 or the finals of the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
We will never quite know how good the football team could have been.
We can only think and dream.
Yugoslavia and its football team — the entire world missed out on.
It would’ve been amazing, wouldn’t it?