Velibor Vasovic, the former AFC Ajax captain and Yugoslavian international, has died aged 62.
The former AFC Ajax captain Velibor Vasovic has died aged 62 after suffering a heart attack.
Vasovic began his career in Belgrade playing for FK Partizan, and later played for their arch-rivals, FK Crvena Zvezda. In 1966 he scored Partizan's only goal in the 2-1 defeat against Real Madrid CF in the 1965/66 European Champion Clubs' Cup.
Victory over Panathinaikos
Three years later, having moved to Ajax, history repeated itself in the same tournament as Vasovic scored the Dutch side's consolation goal in the 4-1 defeat against Milan AC in the Spanish capital. Vasovic finally got his chance to lift the prestigious trophy when he captained Ajax in a 2-0 win against Panathinaikos FC in the 1970/71 final at Wembley. He also played 32 times for the Yugoslavia national team.
Cruyff pays tribute
Johan Cruyff, who played with Vasovic in that great Ajax side, said: "It is unbelievable that he is dead. 'Vasco' was an old friend of mine. He was someone that taught me so much. When he joined us in 1966, he added a high degree of professionalism to the side."
'Like a big brother'
Recalling the influence his "big brother" brought to the side, Cruyff added: "Until he came we always played nice but we needed something extra. At times opponents would sometimes bother me when I was taking a corner, but Velibor would just say 'Johan, don't worry, just leave it to me'. In that way he was like a big brother to me."
'Laid the foundations'
Lazar Radovic, Vasovic's midfield partner from his Partizan days, who also left for the Netherlands in 1966 to play for PSV Eindhoven, said: "Vasovic was 100 per cent football. He was surely the best foreigner to have played in the Dutch league in the 20th century. He was the first foreign player to be captain of Ajax and laid the foundations for both the modern Ajax side and the Yugoslavia national team."
'More than a coach'
Former Partizan player and now director Nenad Bjekovich said: "Vasovic was much more then a coach. He was the man who made me a player and captain of Partizan. He knew how to play, but also how to teach and advise."
After playing his last match, Vasovic, who won eleven national championships with Partizan and Ajax, pursued a coaching career with Crvena Zvezda and was an assistant at Partizan.