A modern great with a generous streak, Stevan Jovetić is well loved in Montenegro, where fans and players are hoping his loan move to Sevilla proves a success.
Fans in Montenegro will be hoping Stevan Jovetić finds his feet with Sevilla after the country's golden boy completed a loan move from Internazionale last night, with national team coach Ljubiša Tumbaković sure the 27-year-old forward has made the right call.
"Stevan is going to a big club – a great club with a great coach, who is ambitious and hard-working and whose team play excellent, attacking football," he said. "Jovetić now faces a new challenge in an environment that could absolutely suit him."
The 44-times capped Montenegrin international also feels he has chosen well, saying he has gone to "a great club with a great coach in Jorge Sampaoli". The news is certain to please his legion of supporters back home.
In Montenegro, Jovetić is regarded as one of the nation's four all-time footballing greats alonside Dejan Savićević, Predrag Mijatović and Mirko Vučinić, and his reputation soared even higher in 2015 after he intervened to help a young striker in trouble.
When Milivoje Raičević tore cruciate ligaments that August, his club Budućnost Podgorica could not afford the necessary treatment for the 22-year-old, but Jovetić – a complete stranger, and not even a former Budućnost player – made a sudden and decisive intervention.
"He arranged for me to meet the doctor who had helped him when he had the same injury [in 2010]," Raičević explained later that year. "Jovetić covered all the examination costs and also paid for my surgery.
"All I can do is say many, many thanks and promise Stevan I will be back next season, scoring goals for him." He has hit eight so far this season, eight more than Jovetić has managed in his five Serie A substitute appearances for Inter.
Taken from home-town team Mladost to Partizan in Belgrade aged just 14, Jovetić sparkled following a high-profile transfer to Fiorentina in 2008, but found first-team football more elusive after joining Manchester City in 2013. His two campaigns at Inter have fizzled out in similar fashion.
"After going to England, I had a lot of injury problems and was never able to play consistently," said Jovetić, his country's 19-goal all-time top scorer, including three strikes in the current European Qualifers. "At Inter, I did well for the first six months, then got fewer and fewer opportunities to play. I think I will be back on track here in Seville. We'll do our best to make progress in the Champions League and finish in the top three or four in the Liga."
He becomes the fourth Montenegrin player to represent Sevilla after Željko Petrović (1991–92), Dejan Vukićević (1997–99) and Igor Gluščević, who helped the club win promotion back to the top flight in 1999. The dream is that Jovetić will leave a more profound impact than his predecessors.
"Even in not so good times at Inter, Jovetić was always a brilliant professional with the national team and a true leader," Tumbaković said. "I am sure he will be even better now. I am very positive about his future at Sevilla. The club wanted him, he showed a desire to go there, and that is an excellent foundation for what comes next."