You could say the successful career of a football player is when defending his country playing at the highest event on the planet called the world cup. Even more special when bringing his team embrace the most coveted trophy in all corners of the world.
A footballer generally defends only one national team, but that does not apply to Dejan Stankovic as he is the only football player who played in a world cup with three different national flags.
Stankovic, who was born on 11 September 1978 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, began his professional career by strengthening Red Star Belgrade from 1995 to 1998. A score of 39 goals from 113 appearances was successfully made by Stankovic who was still young at that time.
Stankovic then continued his adventure to Italy. In the country of the four world cup winners, he also decided to hang up his shoes. His work in the country of Pizza with Lazio and Inter Milan has shown his quality as one of the leading midfielders in Europe.
Getting 22 trophies while pioneering his career in Italian football, has also proved himself as a dangerous midfielder of his time. Moreover, Stankovic managed to bring Inter Milan won the Champions League trophy in the 2009/10 season, as well as embracing the first treble winners of his life.
In his career, Stankovic himself has scored 114 goals in 647 appearances in all the clubs he defended. Besides the 22 trophies he won while defending Lazio and Inter, he also won 4 trophies when playing for Red Star Belgrade.
Throughout his career at the World Cup, Stankovic played with three countries; the first with Yugoslavia in France 1998, then Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 world cup and the last was playing as the captain of the Serbian national team in southern Africa 2010.
In 1998, Stankovic was a Yugoslav midfield maestro with a fresh face since at that time, he was still 19 years old. In those days, Stankovic played more attacking. He joined the world cup squad after scoring 21 goals in all competitions for Red Star Belgrade in the season leading up to the tournament.
During the event, Stankovic entered as a substitute in Yugoslavia’s first group match against Iran and earned a place in the starting line-up for the next match against Germany where he played for 66 minutes.
At that time, Stankovic used his jersey number 20 and then returned to fill the starting line-up in the third match against the United States. At that time, Stankovic worked with great players like Predrag Mijatovic and Dragan Stojkovic.
In that match, Yugoslavia won 1-0 thanks to a Slobodan Komljenovic goal in the third minute. The result brought Yugoslavia into the last 16 as the group runner-up.
Yugoslavia met the Netherlands in the last 16 but Stankovic did not play in the match. Midfielder Edgar Davids scored the winning goal in the 92nd minute to get rid of Yugoslavia in the last 16 in a match that became the last World Cup match in the country’s history.
In 2003, the Yugoslavian national football team no longer existed. After the destruction of Yugoslavia that year. New countries had emerged one by one. One of which was Serbia & Montenegro. Stankovic, who was born on the Serbian side also officially bore Serbian citizenship in the same year.
Interestingly, it did not take long for Serbia & Montenegro to be able to participate in European and World football competitions. It was proven as they were able to follow the European Cup and World Cup qualifications, even though the age of the country has not been more than one year.
Thus, Stankovic who has pocketed the citizenship of Serbia & Montenegro can defend his new country legally. Interestingly, Stankovic managed to lead his country to pitch to the 2006 World Cup.
At the tournament held in Germany, Stankovic acted as captain. He led his colleagues to face the Netherlands, Argentina and Ivory Coast in the group phase.
Unfortunately, from the three matches in the group phase, Serbia and Montenegro had to bow down in embarrassment after failing to win a single victory. He himself played fully in these three matches. In total, Stankovic has played 24 matches with Serbia and Montenegro and managed to score three goals and three assists.
While the 2006 world cup tournament was still in progress, Serbia & Montenegro officially declared their respective independence.
Thus, for the third time, Stankovic changed his citizenship again. And, again, he was immediately selected by his coach, Javier Clemente, to strengthen Serbia in the International arena. He also managed to bring Serbia to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
In 2010, Stankovic led Serbia in South Africa and became the only player in history to play in three World Cups for three different countries.
However, he again failed to speak much in the event after being defeated by Ghana and Australia. However, in the group phase, surprisingly, they managed to defeat Germany with Milan Jovanovic’s sole goal.
In 2013, Stankovic decided to retire from the hustle and bustle of football. In the world cup event, Stankovic may not be very successful, but he will always get a place in the history of the most prestigious event under the sky.
During defending the national team in three different countries, Stankovic managed to pack 15 goals from 103 appearances. His last international match occurred when he strengthened Serbia on 11 October 2013 in a trial against the Japanese national team.