Radomir Antić life and biography

Radomir Antić picture, image, poster

Radomir Antić biography

Date of birth : 1948-11-22
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Žitište, FPR Yugoslavia
Nationality : Serbian
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-05-10
Credited as : Football defender / coach manager, FC Barcelona, FIFA World Cup

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Radomir Antić ( born 22 November 1948 in Žitište) is a Serbian former football defender and current football manager for the Serbian national team.

Following a 17-year playing career he found his true calling in coaching.

He is the only individual who has managed FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atlético Madrid. Additionally, Antić is one of only two men to have managed both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, long-time bitter rivals. (The other one is Enrique Fernández Viola).

Antić was born in Žitište to a Serbian family that settled in the small Banat town shortly before his birth (his father Jovan is from Janja village near Bijeljina, his mother Milka from Grmeč region). The family then moved to Titovo Užice when Radomir was six years old. He started his playing career with FK Sloboda Užice (1967-1968) and then moved to the club where he would play most of his career, FK Partizan (1968-1976).

In the summer of 1976, he signed for Fenerbahçe in Turkey. He spent two seasons in Istanbul before moving to La Liga where he played for Real Zaragoza.

In 1980, Antić moved on to Luton Town, staying until 1984. Known in England as Raddy, in May 1983, he scored the goal that saved Luton Town from relegation from the top division, the goal coming just four minutes from time in the final league match of the season; the game was against Manchester City, who themselves were relegated as a result. Almost 32 years of age when he arrived at Luton, Antić already looked to coaching as a career option once his playing days are finished. While an active player in England, he enrolled in and completed the coaching college in Belgrade (Viša trenerska škola). In that regard he often cites David Pleat, his manager at Luton, as an influence on his later coaching style.

Managerial career

After finishing his playing career at the age of 36, Antić started a career in coaching as an assistant with FK Partizan (1985-87), working under head coach Nenad Bjeković. Partizan won the 1985-86 league title amid a huge match-fixing controversy.

In early July 1987, Fahrudin Jusufi was brought in as the new head coach and initially Antić continued his assistant role. For the pre-season training ahead of the 1987-88 season, the team went abroad where Jusufi and Antić got into a row over player personnel issues that resulted in Antić being essentially demoted to the position of Partizan under-16 youth team (cadet squad) coach.

Real Zaragoza

Antić's first head coaching job was with Real Zaragoza. In addition to formerly playing for the club, his appointment owed a lot to being recommended for the job by countryman Vujadin Boškov, who successfully led Sampdoria at the time, but still enjoyed a lot of clout in Spain having led Zaragoza (coached Antić there for two years) and other La Liga clubs during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The squad was a fairly modest one without any really big names; the most notable players being the aging Spanish international midfielder Juan Señor and forward Miguel Pardeza who came up through Real Madrid's youth system as part of Quinta del Buitre. The club also had some young assets: a pair of 22-year-olds Francisco Villarroya and Juan Vizcaíno who were well on their way to becoming future Spanish internationals as well as eccentric Paraguayan goalie José Luis Chilavert who came to the club the same summer Antić did. Antić's La Liga coaching debut occurred on 4 September 1988 in a game versus Valencia CF that ended in a scoreless draw. The initial period was rough with the club hovering in and around relegation zone, followed by a period of slight improvement, but still firmly tied up in the lower half of the table. The sudden and somewhat unexpected breakthrough came during last eight league matches of the season as Antić's Zaragoza started posting win after win in a rapid climb up the table, finishing the season in 5th place, thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

He ended up spending two full seasons (1988-1990) managing a club he also turned out for as a player.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid came calling in March 1991 and Antić took over from club legend Alfredo di Stéfano with the club occupying 7th spot in La Liga standings. Used to winning trophies, the royal club was in turmoil with Antić coming in as their third head coach of the season after John Toshack and Di Stefano. Antić led the team in the last 12 league matches of the 1990-91 season, improving Real's standing to third in the league, qualifying for UEFA Cup.

Antić also spent the first half of the 1991/92 season (19 league matches) coaching the Spanish giants. With Emilio Butragueño, Míchel, Fernando Hierro, Manuel Sanchís, and Gheorghe Hagi as the club's established stars, Antić brought in Robert Prosinečki, prominent member of the Red Star Belgrade's 1991 European Cup winning side, as well as promising 21-year-old Luís Enrique from Sporting de Gijón. Once the season began, one player especially excelled under Antić: Hierro, normally a defenceman, got moved up further into the midfield and responded by scoring in numbers, eventually ending the season on 21 goals, the greatest single-season offensive output of his career.

The way Antić got fired mid-season in January 1992, showed the full range of club politics as well as the dog-eat-dog nature of top club coaching. He was enjoying a good run as the club's coach when then Real president Ramón Mendoza brought Leo Beenhakker into the organization in a vaguely defined sporting director. In a matter of weeks Antić was sacked and replaced with Beenhakker. At the time of Antić's firing, Real was holding the top spot in La Liga by a 7-point margin and was also smoothly through to the UEFA Cup quarterfinals.

Proving perhaps that what goes around comes around, led by Beenhakker, Real squandered the seven-point lead, losing the title to their bitter rivals FC Barcelona on the last day of the season.

Real Oviedo

Antić was hired to coach Real Oviedo when the club's brass fired previous longtime coach Javier Irureta after week 19 of the 1992/93 season with the club dangerously close to the relegation zone in 16th spot and a one match stint of caretaker Julio Marigil Marín. Antić took over from week 21 and completed the season with the club, managing to avoid relegation by finishing two spots above the drop zone. He remained at the club for two more seasons after that.

During summer 1993 transfer window, he signed Slaviša Jokanović from FK Partizan whose midfield presence greatly helped the squad. The expectations at Oviedo were obviously much more modest compared to Real, with mere top league survival being the biggest goal. It was therefore no small surprise that a very low budget Antić-led Oviedo team finished the 1993-94 league season in 9th place.

Antić's most notable signing at Oviedo came before the start of 1994-95 season when he brought often injured Prosinečki from Real Madrid, thus reuniting with a player he signed to Madrid in the first place. Oviedo again finished the La Liga season in respectable 9th position, missing a European spot by a couple of points.

Atlético Madrid

Antić's greatest coaching successes are undoubtedly tied to Atlético de Madrid, a club that he ended up coaching during three stints.

His achievements with transforming Oviedo's fortunes led to offers from bigger Spanish clubs. Despite having been in final stages of the negotiations with Valencia CF with even a pre-contract signed, Antić decided to take Atlético's offer, leading to his first engagement with the club that ended up lasting three seasons (1995-98). The squad he took over during summer 1995 was a talented one featuring the quality core of José Luis Caminero, Kiko Narváez, and Diego Simeone, but with a reputation of continuous underachievement. In the season prior to his arrival, the club finished one point above relegation zone by earning a 2-2 draw versus Sevilla FC on the last matchday of the season.

Out of the 35-player squad he inherited, Antić quickly identified 20 players he was counting on for the following season before setting about adding 5 to 6 more players during the transfer window. That meant the end of Atlético days for a slew of players including aging goalie Abel Resino, Colombian striker Adolfo Valencia, Brazilian Iván Rocha, Polish striker Roman Kosecki, Russian winger Igor Dobrovolski, etc.

First on Antić's wish list was defender Viktor Onopko whom he coached at Real Oviedo: Atlético and the player agreed terms, however, Oviedo management weren't satisfied and the case ended up before FIFA arbitration commission, which ruled in Oviedo's favour. Antić then tried to get 19-year-old Fernando Morientes from Albacete, but the talented striker signed with Real Zaragoza. Out of the players Antić did manage to sign, the biggest find turned out to be unheralded winger Milinko Pantić whom Antić plucked from obscurity in Panionios for very little money. The move initially raised eyebrows with many questioning the usefulness of a complete unknown who is about to turn 29 years of age, however, over the coming season Pantić would prove himself to be the missing piece this team needed with key goals and assists. Another key acquisition was Bulgarian tall centre forward Luboslav Penev, brought in from Valencia despite questions about his health due to a recent bout with testicular cancer. Other incoming transfers included goalkeeper José Francisco Molina and central defender Santi Denia from Albacete, midfielder Roberto Fresnedoso from Espanyol, and young Argentine striker Leo Biagini. Playing in the domestic league that was just expanded from 20 to 22 teams along with a new points system with three points awarded for a win, under Antić's command, the Atletico squad featuring Molina in goal, Delfí Geli and Santi Denia in central defence, Roberto Solozábal and Toni on right and left back respectively, Juan Vizcaíno (whom Antić previously coached at Zaragoza) and Caminero in centre midfield, Simeone and Pantić on right and left wing respectively, and finally Penev and Kiko upfront gelled together masterfully en route to a historic La Liga/Copa del Rey double in 1995-96 season. Other players that didn't start as often, but nevertheless contributed significantly throughout the season were Fresnedoso, Juan Manuel López, Biagini, Pirri Mori, etc. Once Antić's Atletico took the top league spot after week 2, it gave it up only once (after week 5), before reclaiming it the very next week and impressively continuing on top until the end with Penev scoring 16 league goals, Simeone 12, Kiko 11, Pantić 10, and Caminero 9. Atlético also featured a stingy defence that allowed 32 goals - less than any other team in the league. Still, the title wasn't secure until the very last match, as Valencia pursued until the end. Going into the last round of matches on Saturday, May 25, 1996, Atlético was on 84 points with Alabacete to play at home while Valencia had 82 and Celta away. The victory was never in doubt as Simeone and Kiko scored in the first half sparking off jubilant scenes at Vicente Calderón Stadium.

Month and a half earlier Antić already claimed his first trophy of the season, beating Johan Cruyff's Barça in the Copa del Rey final in Zaragoza after extra time on a goal by Pantić.

Winning the double endeared Antić to Atlético faithful and more importantly to club's controversial president Jesús Gil. Notorious for quickly and impulsively going through coaches, Gil kept Antić at the helm of his team for two more seasons (three consecutive seasons in total) - a record of sorts considering Gil's trigger-happy nature when it came to gaffers.

During summer 1996 transfer window, the squad upgrade was in order ahead of the 1996–97 season where Atlético was to compete in Champions League in addition to defending the La Liga title. As a replacement for aging Luboslav Penev who was impressive during the double title season despite simultaneously recovering, Antić wanted to bring in promising 19-year-old Brazilian Ronaldo from PSV and pushed hard within the club hierarchy for that to be done. However, he ultimately got overruled by higher instances and Ronaldo signed with FC Barcelona about a month later. Instead, Atlético acquired 23-year-old Argentine striker Juan Esnáider from Real Madrid. Another big acquisition was 24-year-old Czech defensive midfielder Radek Bejbl from Slavia Praha who was coming off a great showing at Euro 96 where Czechs finished runners-up. The arrival of Bejbl meant that 30-year-old Vizcaíno lost his starting spot in defensive midfield. Simultaneously playing on two difficult fronts proved to be much more demanding and the team quickly started lagging behind Real and Barcelona in La Liga, while in the Champions League they progressed to the quarterfinals on top of the group featuring Borussia Dortmund, Widzew Łódź, and Steaua Bucureşti. In the second part of league campaign Atlético somewhat steadied its form, but was unable to make up the minus from early parts of the season. In Champions League, the quarter-final clash vs Ajax turned into an epic battle with Atlético getting a great 1-1 result away with Esnáider scoring a header after fine work from Delfí Geli on the right.The return leg in Madrid was a tense affair that saw los colchoneros go up through Kiko in the first half before Overmars equalized - with the score tied at one a piece Antić decided to take off Esnáider who was not pleased about the substitution and got into a vicious shouting match with the coach as he exited the pitch - all which meant extra time was needed.

Ahead of the 1997-98 season, Gil invested heavily into the team, bringing 24-year-old Italian superstar Christian Vieri fresh from winning the Serie A title with Juventus. He also bought crafty Brazilian Juninho from Middlesbrough for ₤12 million. In order to somewhat offset the costs, inspirational midfielder Diego Simeone was sold to Internazionale. Naturally the expectations were huge, with spotlight especially focused on expensive new signings. Though both struggled with injuries causing them to miss significant chunk of the season, Vieri still managed to produced excellent form when fit to play with 24 goals in 24 league appearances, while Juninho struggled to make similar impact with only 6 goals in 23 league appearances. When Atletico started sputtering in La Liga, the rumblings about Antić's possible dismissal were heard for the first time. When Atlético got eliminated by Lazio at the semi-final stage of 1997-98 UEFA Cup, Gil launched into an obscenity-laced tirade against Spanish television for reporting he has lined up an Italian coach to replace Antić.

In the end, that is exactly what happened as he was let go at season's end during the summer of 1998 to make way for Arrigo Sacchi.

FC Barcelona

After taking a year and a half long break from coaching, Antić joined FC Barcelona in late January 2003 on initiative by club president Joan Gaspart to take over from recently sacked Louis van Gaal. Caretaker manager, Antonio de la Cruz, took temporary charge of team affairs until Antić took the reins with the famous team occupying the embarrassing 15th spot in La Liga standings with only 23 points from 20 league matches (six wins, five draws, and nine losses), but well placed in the UEFA Champions League second phase with 2 wins from as many matches. The club's Spanish league position was so weak that mere top-flight survival was put forth as Antić's immediate goal. On the other hand, in Champions League, the expectations were substantial. Some press outlets reported that his six month €600,000 contract with Barça was incentive based, stipulating automatic 1-year extension at the end of the season if the club qualifies for the following season's Champions League based on the domestic league finish (top 4).

Inheriting a squad of players he didn't pick himself, Antić immediately wanted some fresh blood by bringing in Juan Pablo Sorín from Lazio. He also started giving regular first team appearances to young goalie Víctor Valdés as well as throwing another youngster Andrés Iniesta into the first-team mix.

Antić managed to stabilize the squad and lead it to the 6th place La Liga finish, ensuring UEFA Cup spot. His record with the club in the season since taking over was nine wins, six draws, and three losses. In the Champions League, under Antić, Barça dominated its second phase group throughout February and early March, which gave the team a much needed confidence boost for the rest of the season on all fronts. In fact, Antić's only third match in charge of Barça was an important Champions League clash at home versus Inter Milan that the Catalans ended up winning in empathic fashion 3-0, thus marking the coach's return to the Champions League after six years and also extending the team's win streak to 11 consecutive CL matches, thus breaking the old record by AC Milan. However, Antić's Barça lost the hard fought quarter-final tie to Marcello Lippi-led Juventus. After Atlético six years earlier, it was Antić's second opportunity to lead a club in the Champions League, and again it ended in heartbreak after extra time. Barça got a great result in the first leg away in Turin after scoring the away goal through Javier Saviola roughly ten minutes from time to tie the score at 1-1, and looked to be in great shape heading back to Camp Nou. The second leg turned into another tough battle with very little separating the sides: Juve scored the opening goal midway through the second half, but Barça responded almost immediately and furthermore received a huge boost when Edgar Davids got sent off for second bookable offense ten minutes from the end. With momentum on their side, Barcelona mounted wave after wave of attack. Antić put Juan Riquelme on instead of Marc Overmars, and then early into the extra period threw on Gerard López for Michael Reiziger, but still couldn't make the man advantage count mostly due to some brilliant defending from Lilian Thuram. Towards the end of extra time, Marcelo Zalayeta scored on Juve's only shot of the period through Alessandro Birindelli's cross thus knocking Barça out of the competition.

Despite all his success in difficult circumstances, Antić was replaced with Frank Rijkaard during the offseason. The coaching change came as part of the general team overhaul initiated by the newly arrived club president Joan Laporta.

Celta de Vigo

Due to Antić's widely publicised success with Barça, he developed somewhat of a reputation as a crisis coach. It was probably this kind of thinking that led Celta de Vigo to hire him mid-season 2003/04 in difficult circumstances similar to Barça's one year earlier. The team lost 2-5 at home to Real Sociedad, dropping to just one point above relegation zone, all of which prompted coach Miguel Ángel Lotina's resignation. Antić took over just three days later. In another similarity to Barça, Celta was also in good shape in UEFA Champions League where it awaited the round-of-16 tie versus Arsenal.

Following his arrival on 29 January 2004, Antić's debut at Celta's bench took place away at Real Betis where the losing continued with final score being 1-0. Following this match in which he felt Celta deserved a more positive result, Antić identified overturning the loss of self-confidence among some of his players due to club's weak league position as his biggest challenge. He also mentioned that important squad members Aleksandr Mostovoi, Edu, and Jesuli were experiencing trouble hitting their usual form following injury layoffs. Antić's first move on the transfer front was bringing Saša Ilić from FK Partizan. Unfortunately, Antić couldn't pull the trick this time around. The squad never gelled together and he eventually resigned on 29 March 2004 following a 0-2 home loss to Real Zaragoza that dropped the team to second-last league position. He was in charge of the team in just nine league games, managing to get only seven points. They were also easily eliminated from the Champions League by Arsenal (5-2 on aggregate).

Antić's resignation hardly changed matters as Celta got relegated at the end of the season.

He later admitted joining Celta in such circumstances was a mistake and vowed never to accept coaching jobs in mid-season again.

Serbian national team

On 19 August 2008, it was announced that Antić agreed terms with the Serbian Football Association to take over his native country's national team. The appointment came in somewhat controversial circumstances as previous head coach Miroslav Đukić was being fired following a disastrous 2008 Olympic campaign and Đukić's public feuding with FA president Tomislav Karadžić. In the past, Antić's name had been mentioned anytime the national team job was available throughout the previous decade and many times he turned it down so many found it surprising that he finally said yes.

The appointment also marked 59-year-old Antić's return to coaching after four years. According to both Antić and Karadžić, the negotiations between the coach and the Serbian FA were very short and the agreement was reached quickly after Antić's only conditions that he brings in his own support staff and that his second in command is his long time collaborator Rešad Kunovac were accepted. Antić's initial salary was reportedly somewhere in the range of €305,000 to €325,000 per year, along with a €500,000 bonus incentive if the team manages to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Antić's annual earnings from the job were thus less than Javier Clemente's €360,000 per year salary when the Basque was the Serbian team's head coach from 2006 until 2007.

Hired barely two weeks before the start of 2010 World Cup qualifying, Antić had precious little time to acquaint himself with the players and prepare. His bench debut took place on September 6, 2009 in a qualifier versus the Faroe Islands in front of less than 10,000 spectators at the almost empty Marakana stadium. And although the 2-0 win was far from convincing, Antić and his team got passing marks as all eyes were on the match away at powerhouse France in Saint Denis four days later. Looking at the team he fielded on his debut, Antić introduced some fresh talent from the domestic league such as midfielders Nenad Milijaš and Zoran Tošić as well as defender Ivan Obradović. Furthermore, he brought back skillful attacking midfielder Miloš Krasić who was completely ignored by Đukić. Taking on France in the next match Antić returned to the tried and tested players, however he still caused a surprise by starting 19-year-old Miralem Sulejmani on the wing thus continuing his long-standing practice of throwing in-form youngsters into the fire. Also surprising was leaving tall striker Nikola Žigić on the bench and starting with only on attacker, Marko Pantelić, upfront. And while Serbia lost 2-1 to somewhat wounded France that just days earlier shockingly lost to Austria, many positives were taken from the match at Stade de France such as a brave attacking approach with a lot of running from the wings. Next up in October was in-form Lithuania that was on a roll after beating Romania and Austria without allowing a goal. Contrary to expectations, Antić's team made easy work of the Lithuanians in front of some 20,000 home fans by scoring twice early, and adding one more towards the end for a 3-0 final score. Four days later, the team was in Vienna to face Austria and again it put in a dominating performance: scoring three goals within a 10-minute span during first half as shellshocked Austrians never managed to recover.

As the winter break arrived, Serbia clearly made a statement of intent by sitting atop the group, tied on points with Lithuania, but with better goal difference. Simultaneously on the player personnel front, Antić was involved in a battle to secure the national team loyalty of two young, up-and-coming players who grew up outside of the country, 20-year-old defender Neven Subotić and 18-year-old striker Bojan Krkić. With Subotić he was successful as the player choose Serbia over United States and Bosnia-Herzegovina in December 2008, while Krkić choose Spain despite Antić's numerous attempts to get him to come to Serbian national team.

In his first qualifying campaign managing Serbia, Antić led Serbia to first in their group in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. After successful qualification, it was reported in November 2009 (amid reports of icy relations between Antić and FA president Karadžić) that Antić and Serbian FA (FSS) agreed a new contract during friendly trips to Belfast and London where Serbia played Northern Ireland and South Korea, respectively. This temporarily put the feud reports to rest. Over the coming weeks, Antić's new base sallary became the subject of rife press speculation putting the new sum anywhere from €528,000 per year to astronomical €1.2 million per year. Since the contract wasn't formally signed and announced by mid December, despite assurances, even by Antić's agent, that it will happen any day now, the reports of Antić-Karadžić feud reignited, especially when irritated Antić himself flippantly claimed that he doesn't know anything about a new contract. Eventually, on December 18, 2009 Antic's new contract was announced extending his term to 2012.

Personal life

Antić's primary residence is in Spain where he owns property in Madrid and Marbella. He is married to Vera. Serbian basketball player Nikola Lončar is his son in law, having married his daughter Ana.

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