We recently launched a new column called "Remember him?". We revisit the memories of former Fradi footballers that we’ve heard less about lately. It is really interesting to relive the past, and the career of these football players for a special moment, an important goal, match, speech, or event, and to also find out what they are doing today.
After Ernő Kardos and Paul Shaw, we now talked to a footballer who only spent three years with us, and was only a regular first-team player in the beginnings of his time here, yet he still became one of the favourites of the fans. That man is Aleksandar Jovic, who if not known so far, it can be found out from this interview why we have good memories of him and still think goodly about him 16 years after he left our club.
- You celebrated your 48th birthday las week, first of all I’d like to wish you a Happy Birthday!
- Thank you very much!
- We wished you a ‘Happy Birthday’ on our Facebook page too, you commented under the post. Did it mean a lot to you?
- It felt great, it really did mean a lot. Do you know why? It’s been more than 16 years since I was a player of Fradi. Unfortunately, I haven’t kept in touch with a lot of people from the club, but when I saw this greeting, it made me very happy. I have so many amazing memories, I spent wonderful years in Budapest. The fans loved me and I loved the club too. We had a great team, we formed a real family with the players and the staff.
Name: Aleksandar Jovic
Place of birth: Belgrad, Yugoslavia
Clubs: FK Crvena Zvezda (1990-1992); FK Vozdovac (1992-1995); FK Cukaricki (1995-1998); PAOK (1996 - loan); Hansa Rostock (1998-1999) Hapoel Haifa (1999 - loan); Kickers Offenbach (1999-2000); FTC (2001-2004)*
*Although Wikipedia and Transfermarkt indicate a Swedish club for him, his last club was Fradi.
- Does Fradi still hold a special place in your heart?
- I played at home, in Greece, in Germany, but on the one hand, I spent one of my longest periods here, and on the other hand, I didn’t experience anything like at Fradi anywhere. I won a championship title, a cup title, and even now I still feel the energy the fans gave me, the great atmosphere in the stadium. A few years ago I visited the new stadium on a derby against Újpest, it looks fantastic. I also met the old teammates, Gera, Lipcsei, Dragóner. It was great, very nostalgic.
- How did you become a player of Fradi? Did you know the club beforehand?
Of course, I knew Ferencváros, I was only three years old when Fradi played against Crvena Zvezda in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup here in Maracana, in front of almost 110 thousand spectators, this number has been a record ever since! When I was approached by Ferencváros, I was playing in Carl Zeiss Jena, in Bundesliga 2. We negotiated in August when the season was over and the club leaders were very convincing. Then I got to know the team and it soon became clear to me that I had made a good decision.
- Did you have a teammate you knew from before?
I have seen Lipcsei play before in Porto, and Dragóner in Cologne. I didn’t know Gera before though, he was very young back then, but I immediately saw what a talented guy he was.
- The 20-30-year-olds who were only kids when they saw you play have particularly fond memories of the team during your time. How did it feel to be part of that?
- I only have good memories. In the first year, I was a starting player at János Csank, then József Garami brought Attila Tököli to the team, from there on I was mostly a substitute, but even so, I say that I only have nice memories from my time in Fradi. Tököli was a phenomenal striker, they formed an amazing pair with Gera, but I still always felt that I was also an important member of the team. I almost always was benched for the first half, but I was also sure that I would get my chance in the second half. How did I know that? Because I had lots of energy! If, say, the score was 0-0 or we were behind, the coach knew I would bring new impulses into the game. In my third year, unfortunately, I was restrained by injuries, I had to have surgery, but again, all I can say is that this was a beautiful period of my career and my life.
- Your first Fradi match was a friendly game, and then ten days later you debuted in the derby against Újpest. Do you still remember that match?
- Tough question, what was the result?
- We won 2-1, we took the lead with an own goal, then Újpest equalized, and the winning goal was scored by Gábor Vén with your assist.
- Gábor Vén, yes, now I remember! The left-footed player! I’ll be honest, my memories of this particular match are a bit cloudy, it wasn’t today. But the derbies against Újpest as a whole, of course, were unforgettable experiences.
JOVIC'S FIRST GAME IN FRADI (his assist from 6:30)
- I think I know which one was your favorite game against Újpest. I’ll still ask the question though, which one is it?
- Uhm… That’s another hard question! I think you’re talking about the game that we won 2-1, and I scored the winning goal, right?
JOVIC'S WINNING GOAL AGAINST ÚJPEST
- That’s correct! And for Fradi fans, if someone scores a winning goal against the purple-whites, they become immediately "immortal" in their eyes.
- Yes, it was a great match, maybe the most beautiful experience, but that wasn't the derby in which I played best. In the same season, in the spring, Újpest led 2-0 at home, I stepped on the pitch as a substitute, and was able to score, then I scored the equalizer too, and I was very close to a hat-trick, unfortunately, it didn't come together, and we lost, but I still scored twice.
JOVIC’S DOUBLE AGAINST ÚJPEST
- When I say the word Panenka, what comes to mind about your time at Fradi?
- This is my cup match penalty, right? (Laughs for a long time.) If I remember correctly, we played against a team from the NB II.
- That’s right, Nyíregyháza was the opponent.
- Nyíregyháza, yes! When the match was over I remember József Garami came up to me and said "Are you crazy?! I almost had a heart attack!" (laughs). I quickly apologized to him, I loved him very much. I didn’t get much playtime, because he preferred Tököli and Gera, but I respected him very, very much. I didn’t shoot a penalty like this before or after that game, but for some reason, I felt it was the right moment to give it a try. Well, the Master did not think so… But then, of course, there was no anger, we were already laughing on the way home. Of course, if I had missed it, I would have been in very big trouble!
JOVIC’S PANENKA PENALTY
- Do you remember what did you tell the press afterward?
- Now that's a question, I really can't ask.
- "I think my penalty was better than Panenka’s: he simply went under the ball and put it in the net with an arc while I bounced it in."
- That’s really interesting, I surely was confident! However, now I can say in retrospect that I wanted to kick the ball just like Panenka, high up. Just because I never tried (laughs), it turned out like this. Now I don't think mine was better, I was just lucky that the ball ended up int the net.
- You mentioned that you became mostly a substitute in the second half of your Fradi era, I think for many fans you were like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United: you were able to add a lot to the matches as a substitute, but you never complained about it.
- Yes, that was exactly like this! However, I think this should be normal. I was a professional footballer! I knew Gera was a fantastic player. Fantastic! If I had been the coach, I would have always had him play 90 minutes. Tököli was also a great football player! My thoughts were that I should be grateful to even get five minutes on the pitch. I deeply respected all of Garami’s decisions, I knew he liked my style of playing, but Gera and Tököli were better than me then. My goal was that if I got a chance, to add something to the game so I could help my teammates, and be a little better as a team while I was on the field.
- I think that’s the attitude the fans loved you, and one of the reasons why you were one of the audience’s favorites.
- Thank you! Now that I’m a coach, I see a great need for players like that. It’s not an easy task, everyone wants to be on the pitch from the start of the match, if they get on the bench, they will start complaining soon. This is not a winning mentality! The right attitude is to respect all of your coach’s decisions. That’s how I approached this as a player, and now as a coach. Ferencváros is a huge club, they had amazing players throughout history, it was a great honor to wear this jersey because of my respect for them and because of our wonderful fans too, so I never complained if I played little!
- During our conversation, you said great things about Lipcsei, Gera, Tököli, so I’m not going to ask who was the best to play with, but rather tell me who was your best friend off the field?
- I didn’t have a friend that I’ve hung out with between trainings and matches. After the matches, we went to celebrate together as a team, there weren’t any smaller cliques. Lipcsei and Dragóner always created a great mood, they were the leaders of the team. Usually they told us where we were going after the matches. The atmosphere of the team was very good, I never argued with anyone, everyone was a good friend of mine.
- Why and how did you leave Fradi?
- I had a problem with my heel, my Achilles. I may still would have been able to continue my career, but certainly not at that level anymore. My daughter was already seven years old at the time, she started going to school, so we moved home. The following season, József Szeiler called me and asked me to come back. I told him my daughters needed me and I had already started the coaching course as well. Then he continued to convince me: "The fans want to see you, they love you, once they see you sitting on the bench, they’re happy too. If you can play for five minutes, five if you can play ten, ten, just come back!". It felt really good, but I told him it wouldn’t be the same way anymore.
- What’s happened to you since then?
- I don’t mind not coming back as a player, I would have just demolished what I had previously built up. But I do mind not becoming a coach at Fradi. As I said, I didn’t keep much of the contacts, and when a new leadership came to the club, I didn’t want to recommend myself. I first started working at home as a trainer at Cukaricki, then I went to Russia, and now I am an assistant coach at Vozdovac where the stadium was built on a mall. We have a very young team, I feel good here, the stadium is close to our house, but if I have an opportunity abroad, I will not shy away from it.
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