On the 30th of June 1990 Ireland’s World Cup fairy tale came to an end in the Italian capital Rome following a single goal by Italy's Toto Schillaci. The very same evening, 280 kilometres north of the Eternal city in Florence, Yugoslavia exited the competition following a penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Diego Maradona’s Argentina. While Ireland would be seen again four years later at USA ’94, the nation of Yugoslavia would never again appear in that guise!
In June 1991 Croatia and Slovenia, both then part of Yugoslavia declared independence. In September of the same year, the Republic of Macedonia followed suit, plunging the country into one of the bloodiest civil wars of the 20th century. As the nation, which in 1991 was made up Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, disintegrated with the onset of civil war, so too did the national football team. By 1992, despite having topped their qualification group for Euro ’92, the national team was unable to compete in Sweden. Yugoslavia were replaced by the runners-up in their group, Denmark of all teams! And they rest, as they say, is history.
The sad demise of a proud footballing nation, which first played at the Summer Olympics held in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920, was complete. Over the years of their existence, the Yugoslav national team had participated in eight World Cups, four European Championships and had won the Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, coincidently defeating Denmark in the final. In 1987, Yugoslavia won the U-20 World Youth Championship held in Chile.
With qualification for Brazil 2014 almost complete, only Bosnia will certainly be at the World Cup next year, while Croatia are one of the four seeded teams entering the play-offs. Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro have all failed to qualify.
Goalkeepers: Asmir Begovic (Stoke & Bosnia), Samir Handanovic (Inter Milan & Slovenia), Mladen Bozovic (Tom Tomsk & Montenegro). Defenders: Nemanja Vidic (Man United & Serbia), Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea & Serbia), Aleksander Kolarov (Man City & Serbia), Darijo Srna (Shaktar Donetsk & Croatia), Neven Subotic (Dortmund & Serbia), Matija Nastasic (Man City & Serbia), Stefan Savic (Fiorentina & Montenegro). Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid & Croatia), AleksanderIgnjovski (Werder Bremen & Serbia), Miralem Pjanic (Roma & Bosnia), Simon Vukcevic (FK Vojvodina & Montenegro), Nikia Jelavic (Everton & Croatia), Niko Kranjcar (QPR & Croatia), Milos Krasic (Bastia & Serbia), Andrej Modic (AC Milan & Bosnia). Forwards: Edin Dzeko (Man City & Bosnia), Stevan Jovetic (Man City & Montenegro), Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich & Croatia), Mirko Vucinic (Juventus & Montenegro), Goran Pandev (Napoli & Macedonia).
Players who could have played for Yugoslavia include Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland) & Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden). It's difficult to argue the above squad would not challenge for a World Cup or European Championship based on the current form of the squad for their respective clubs and countries.
Chris Herlihy is a former student of UCC graduating with an MA (Economics) in 2010. He is a avid sports fan and has played junior soccer in Cork for UCC among other clubs. He currently works in the Irish financial services sector.