Serbian football in mourning for Goran Bunjevčević

Goran Bunjevčević, the sporting director of the Football Assocation of Serbia and a former defender with the Yugoslavia national team, Crvena zvezda and Tottenham Hotspur, has died aged 45.

Goran Bunjevčević in action for Tottenham in 2001
Goran Bunjevčević in action for Tottenham in 2001 ©Getty Images

Serbian football is mourning Goran Bunjevčević, the sporting director of the Football Association of Serbia (FSS), who has died in Belgrade at the age of 45.

The widely respected Bunjevčević leaves behind a big mark in a country where he came to prominence as a youthful captain of Crvena zvezda, before playing for the Yugoslavia national team and then serving successfully as an administrator for the FSS. It was during Bunjevčević's time as sporting director that Serbia qualified for this summer's FIFA World Cup, their first since 2010.

Born in 1973 in Karlovac, Bunjevčević trained as a schoolboy with Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb before spells with BASK and Grafičar. A defender, sweeper or defensive midfielder, his professional breakthrough arrived with a third Belgrade club Rad, where he stayed from 1993–97. Then came league and cup honours (two of each), as well as the captain's armband, with Crvena zvezda.

In 2001 he moved to English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, where he played 51 Premier League matches. After leaving Spurs in 2006, he spent a solitary season at ADO Den Haag in the Netherlands before retiring.

Bunjevčević also played 16 times for the Yugoslavia national team, winning his last cap against Wales in 2003 in a UEFA European Championship qualifier. A career in football administration followed, initially with Crvena zvezda and Zemun, latterly with the national association. He was a participant in the UEFA Executive Master for International Players (MIP), which gives former elite players the opportunity to learn  skills in the administration and management of football.