Nikola Jovanović (footballer)

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Nikola Jovanović
Personal information
Full name Nikola Jovanović
Date of birth (1952-09-18) 18 September 1952 (age 66)
Place of birth Cetinje, FPR Yugoslavia
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1975–1980 Red Star Belgrade 85 (1)
1980–1982 Manchester United 21 (4)
1981–1982 Budućnost Podgorica (loan) 12 (1)
1982–1986 Budućnost Podgorica ? (?)
National team
1979–1982 Yugoslavia 7 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Nikola "Nikki" Jovanović (Cyrillic: Hикoлa Joвaнoвић; born 18 September 1952 in Cetinje, PR Montenegro, FPR Yugoslavia) is a retired Montenegrin footballer. Representing Yugoslavia during his career, he is known for being first player from outside the British Isles to join Manchester United.[1] He is now a sports director of FK Budućnost Podgorica.

Club career

Jovanović was one of the most successful players of, then Yugoslav, giant Red Star where he played as a defender and had an impressive overall record of 359 matches and 50 goals for the Belgrade side.[2] He then made history when he became the first Yugoslav footballer to play for leading English league side Manchester United, where he made 21 Football League appearances in the early 1980s after being signed by manager Dave Sexton. In addition, he was the first non-British Isles player to be signed by the club — Italian-born Carlo Sartori, who played for United during the 1960s and 1970s, moved to Manchester as a child and came through the youth system.[2] In January 1980, Manchester United made Jovanović one of the club's most expensively signed players at the time by paying £300,000 for his services to Red Star (it was Red Star's and Yugoslav First League record transfer fee at the time).[2] However, his time at Old Trafford was short lived and he failed to justify his transfer fee. By the end of his first season he began suffering from chronic back pain and before long was on his way back to his native Yugoslavia.[2] After being injured for almost two seasons he retired at the age of 31.[2]

International career

Jovanović was capped seven times for the Yugoslavia national football team and was part of the squad at the 1982 FIFA World Cup.[2]

Personal life

Born in Cetinje, present day Montenegro, he resides with his family in Mengeš, Slovenia.[2] Before signing for Manchester United he turned down an offer from Bayern Munich and decided in favour of the English side.[2]


  1. "Overseas stars: Best XI". Manchester United. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Rok Viškovič (27 May 2011). "Prvi tujec v zgodovini Man Utd živi v Sloveniji" (in Slovenian). Retrieved 27 May 2011. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>