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Serbian coach Radomir Antic, the only coach to occupy the bench of the three biggest clubs in Spanish football: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid, has died yesterday afternoon, April 6, in Madrid, aged 71.

His death was due to a long illness, which he had been battling in recent years.

Antic, a native of the Serbian town of Zitiste, began playing football in Sloboda Uzice and then, over the course of several seasons, in the Partizán of Belgrade, the team with which he was proclaimed champion of the Yugoslav League in the 1975/76 season. After his time at Fenerbahce, where he won the Turkish league, he signed for Real Zaragoza, where he played two seasons. His last team was Luton Town in 1980. The English club is where he retired as a player in 1984.

The year after he retired from the field of play, he made his debut as coach of Partizan Belgrade, with which he won two league championships. He returned to Zaragoza in 1988 as coach of the team and qualified to play in the UEFA Cup. In the 90/91 season, he signed as coach of Real Madrid, to replace Alfredo Di Stefano, who had not started the campaign well. His time at Real Madrid was very short-lived, since the results took him off the bench the following season.

After his time at Real Oviedo, where he stayed for two seasons, with a good performance, he signed for Atlético de Madrid and won the League and the Copa del Rey in his first season as head of the team. That campaign of 1995/96 is still remembered today by thousands of fans of the Rojiblanco club, since it was one of the club’s most important exploits. It can be said that with Radomir Antic, Atlético de Madrid, which had always been somewhat irregular, began to establish itself among the best clubs in the Spanish League. In “Atleti” he stayed for five seasons.

He returned to Real Oviedo, without much luck, since the team lost the category that season and, in January 2003, signed for FC Barcelona, ​​to replace Louis Van Gal. The team was in the classification just three points from the relegation places and Antic managed to finish the season in sixth position, which allowed the Catalan team to play in the UEFA Cup. In the following campaign there were elections in Barcelona and its new president, Joan Laporta, decided to do without his services. Subsequently, he made a brief passage of just two months, through Celta de Vigo, without much luck.

In August 2008, he took charge of the preparation of the Serbian Football Team for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. But failure to overcome the group stage led to Antic being dismissed in September that year. For four years, until 2016, he coached several teams in the Chinese League.

After his death on April 6 in Madrid, where he had been struggling with a serious illness for several years, the reactions of Spanish and international football have been swift. The president of Atlético de Madrid has said:

“We have left a great person and one of the architects of the magnificent golden age that Atlético de Madrid lived through.” For Kiko, a former player of Atlético Madrid and the Spanish National Team, who won the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics “Antic was an innovator. He made us win the League and the Cup, enjoying playing on the rival field. He took out the best of me”. Also the Portuguese international Paulo Futre, who played under the Serbian coach, has commented: “I have no words for this legend of Atlético de Madrid and football. Rest in peace, mister.” Fernando Torres, a Spanish international, who played for Atleti de Antic, has had a fond memory for his coach:
“Antic has left us, a man who dignified the profession of footballer. History of our Atleti, champion and legend of Rojiblanca, because Radomir it will always be in the hearts of all athletes.”

Other footballers who were not on their teams, such as Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, have praised Antic: “You made Atleti bigger, you made our rivalry bigger. Goodbye to a unique career: Real Madrid, At Madrid, Barcelona and others …” For Michel, who played for him at Real Madrid, “You were a father that soccer put in my life. I will never be grateful enough …”

Also yesterday, Dolors Sala, the mother of Pep Guardiola, died. She was a victim of the Covid-19. Mrs. Sala was 82 years old and, as published on Manchester City’s Twitter account, she died in the town of Manresa, near Barcelona, as a result of Covid-19. The English club has communicated that “the Manchester City family regrets having to report the death of Mrs. Dolors Sala, mother of Pep Guardiola, at the age of 82, due to the coronavirus”. In another tweet, the club added: “All those of us who are part of the club want to express our condolences to the Guardiola family at such a painful time.” Both FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich have also publicly expressed their condolences to their former coach.

Source: Juan A. Prieto| AIPS EC Member

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