Radomir Antic, between triumph and spite
The first memory of Radomir Antic in Spain is that of a fine defender with a great ability to bring the ball out from the back. He played with Zaragoza in Arrúa's final season and the first with Valdano and then left to play in England. He returned in a coaching capacity and upon being recommended by Boskov, took the reins at Real Zaragoza. In his time as a manager he oversaw the three Spanish giants but was unable to conclude his good early work at Real Madrid and at Barcelona. This left Antic with a bitter taste in the mouth, as at both clubs it was deemed that he was treated unfairly and this came through in the numerous conversations held with him over time.
He arrived at Real Madrid in the 1990-91 season with the team struggling and he managed to turn things around. The following year, Ramon Mendoza decided to sack the Serb with the team on top of the table and brought in Leo Beenhakker as his replacement, with the club ultimately losing out on the title in the final day in Tenerife. Joan Gaspart brought Antic to Barça for the 2002-2003 season with the Catalan club languishing above the relegation zone and Antic managed to secure a place in the following season's UEFA Cup. At the time Joan Laporta took over as president and with him came Rijkaard and Ronaldinho and Antic was forced out of the club. Between his time with the two giants of the Spanish game came his time with Atlético. This was a time with Jesus Gil as president and Antic made history securing a league and cup double for Atleti in difficult time for the then Manzanares based outfit
His Atlético double winning side were iconic with the battling Kiko through to dead ball specialist Pantic. Ultimately things for Antic ended on a sour note with Gil. Just after a Copa del Rey defeat with Atleti fans still singing his name, Gil stormed into the dressing room and promptly fired the Serbian on the spot. He did come back, replacing Claudio Ranieri but was the coach who oversaw Atleti's first ever relegation to the second division. Despite this ignominy, Antic is still seen as a hero in the eyes of every 'Colchonero'. May he rest in peace.