The former Serbian soccer player for Real Madrid and Osasuna was the sad protagonist of a Clásico for an own goal that marked his life
On January 19, 1991, Real Madrid tied at one at the Camp Nou. In the 62nd minute, Barcelona player Eusebio crossed into the area from the right, Jaro failed to clear the ball and was combed by a rival. The rebound came to Predrag Spasic (Kragujevac, September 28, 1965) in ideal conditions to be cleared. He was alone, in the small area, a seemingly simple action. But he shrank his elongated anatomy and, in a movement as slow as it was strange, he hit the ball with his forehead. It was not a clearance. It was a shot. An own goal. A career goal from him. Because Madrid lost that match against FC Barcelona, but he saw how his dream began to slip away. “That brought me a lot of problems,” he acknowledges in an interview with Relevo. The only condition: speak Serbian.
The appointment is in his hometown, Kragujevac, 140 kilometers from Belgrade, in a modest cafeteria. “I think the time has come for me to go out in public so that I can tell my story,” confesses the one who was also a central defender for Osasuna. He started in football as a left back. He signed for Radnicki Kragujevac in 1984. It was there, in his local team, that he later began to sink roots in the center of defence. They nicknamed him the Yugoslav Briegel, because of his great resemblance to that German defender of the 80s. In physique and qualities. His skills took him to Partizán Belgrade in 1988, with Pantic, Goran Milojevic or a very young Pedja Mijatovic.
Ivica Osim noticed him for the Yugoslavia team and took him to the 90 World Cup in Italy. He stood out. In the round of 16 he faced Spain. Yugoslavia won 2-1 and Spasic faced Butragueño, Sanchís or Míchel, who a few weeks later would become his new teammates at Real Madrid. “I didn’t know at the time that they were going to hire me. I had two years left with Partizan and the rumors were that maybe I would go to Italy or Germany », he says. Ramón Mendoza, the white president, tied him up. He paid 200 million pesetas.
Spasic, together with Ramón Mendoza at the press conference for his presentation.
His time at Real Madrid did not start well. He caught a stomach virus because of a paella, Spanish was uphill for him… Chendo, Gordillo and Fernando Hierro were his main supporters. Being central in the white team is not easy. “Each mistake is paid dearly,” he acknowledges. On January 19, 1991, Madrid visited Cruyff’s Barça. Minute 62, Spasic scored an own goal and the entire Camp Nou chanted his name…: «That was one of the most difficult moments of my career. That goal represents my nightmare. He then had a lot of influence and made things more difficult in general », he shares.
Some time later he ended up leaving through the back door of the Bernabéu. He went to Osasuna for three years. “The club and the city treated me very well. I adapted quickly. His style of play favored me ». He even scored a goal against Real Madrid. However, the path ended up definitely twisting.
The contract ended, the red team did not renew him because he fell in category and decided to go live in Marbella waiting for an offer from England or Germany. He never came. And seeing that all the doors were closed to him, he returned home. He hung up his boots in 1997.
«When I returned to my country I suffered from depression. I had good friends who helped me in difficult times and thanks to psychologists I managed to get out. It was everything: one thing, the other, the other… Everything came together and in the end I exploded». That “everything” includes economic bankruptcy. According to him, he invested a lot of money in a business project and it fell apart as a result of the Yugoslav wars. He is a store boy and lives on 400 euros a month. “I am in a difficult situation, you have to be very strong to overcome everything.”