Partizan will play 7th consecutive Serbian cup final next Tuesday and we decided to look back at previous six cup final outings with the help of former and present Partizan coaches and players – Marko Nikolic, Miroslav Djukic, Andrija Delibasic, Marko Jankovic, Dusan Vlahovic, Nikola Milenkovic, Darko Brasanac, Sasa Ilic, Sasa Zdjelar, Bojan Ostojic and Nemanja Stevanovic.
2015 cup final was played on 20th of May at Crvena Zvezda Stadium. Partizan lost 1-0 to Cukaricki with single goal of the game scored by Slavoljub Srnic on 36. It was a first defeat of the season for Partizan coach Zoran Milinkovic who took over club`s dugout mid-season.
“Every trophy matters. Of course, if I had to choose I would always prefer league title but cup trophy has its significance. I didn`t know we played six cup finals in a row, winning four. This is our seventh consecutive final and I hope for a fifth trophy. We all want Partizan to finish this season with a trophy after losing on it last season in a final against Vojvodina. It won`t be easy as we play away to our bitter rivals Crvena Zvezda but I remember I won my last cup trophy with Partizan away to them, a 1-0 win with goal from Ostojic” – says former team captain Sasa Ilic.
Following year, on May 11, 2016, Partizan battled for the cup trophy against Javor Ivanjica at Metalac Gornji Milanovic ground. Led by coach Ivan Tomic, Partizan won 2-0 with goals from Marko Jovanovic (`36) and Dusan Vlahovic (`90+5).
“Being a Partizan kid, it was always a bit more specific playing games for the club, especially cup finals. It was always a big excitement for me, great honour and pride to be part of the team battling for the trophy, writing the pages of club`s history. I was really happy as we won the cup and started the streak of cup wins. Of course, I remember everything from that game, goals from Jovanovic and myself. I came on as a sub, still a kid, managed to score and we all had the pleasure of enjoying in a cup win eventually” – says forward Dusan Vlahovic, now at Fiorentina.
“Of course I remember that final in Gornji Milanovac against Javor. It`s been five years ago but I remember the game pretty well. We had a great run in the cup that year and we needed to make that final step. Pressure was huge, tension as well, as it always is when Partizan plays. But, you have additional responsibility towards yourself, fans and the club when you play for a trophy. Therefore, it was extremely important for us to play that match in a right manner and lift the trophy. We managed to do it and I`m glad we won the cup that season, at least. We had a good team, convinced of our quality, we had Sasa Ilic, Vulicevic, Everton, Marko Jovanovic who scored the opener. Then you had Vlahovic and other boys…We had a quality and we were sure we are going to win the cup final. I`m extremely happy we managed to achieve our aim” – says former Partizan midfielder Darko Brasanac, now of Osasuna.
Partizan played third consecutive cup final on 27th of May 2017, at home ground. Marko Nikolic charges won Crvena Zvezda 1-0 with goal from Nikola Milenkovic on 41.
“I salute Partizan fans ahead of this cup final. It`s another Eternal derby game. I spoke a lot about that 2016/17 season and that`s by far the best period of my coaching career. I always get shivers when I go back to that year, stadium and open bus celebration, thousands of Partizan fans on the streets of Belgrade, the whole of the season overall. Of course, we had specific preparation for that cup final, it was played just four days after the final round of the championship. We had that great celebration afterwards, one huge emotional unload. That`s when we had that famous video prior to the cup final, a motivational one with members of our families involved. It was the idea of my assistants Radoje Smiljanic and Andrija Delibasic. All in all, we didn`t do well in the opening 15 or 20 minutes but ended up playing a phenomenal game and crowned the season with a double. I hope for more such success for Partizan in the future” – said former Partizan boss Marko Nikolic, now at Lokomotiv Moscow.
“Of course, I always follow Partizan and I like present look of the team, not because Aleksandar Stanojevic is my mate – this is purely from a coaching point of view. You can see the clear coaching idea and game discipline. I like it a lot, overall. Naturally, it`s quite hard, especially to Stanojevic, as Partizan is not in the best of situations now. But, Partizan is always great and the club will find the way to return to successful days. They have a right man for it by the dugout. I have no doubt, Partizan has to win this final. I believe in it and I will support Partizan to do it. Since I`m in Belgrade, I`ll be watching it. I wish all the luck to Stanojevic and the boys, let them bring joy to Partizan fans at the end of this strange Covid-19 season” – says Marko Nikolic.
“Salute to all Partizan fans. Just over a year before the cup final, boss Ivan Tomic transferred me from Partizan youths to seniors and he ha d a strong belief in me giving me the opportunity. I learn of lot from Tomic and have a massive gratitude for everything he`s done for me. I was also lucky to play at the back next to one great man, Bojan Ostojic. He helped me a lot when it was hard, giving me lots of advice. Therefore, I have a lot to thank Ostojic for, too. As for the 2017 cup final, when I scored, everything I was dreaming of as a kid, as Partizan youth, all my dreams were summed up in that one moment, scoring against Crvena Zvezda in a cup final, winning a double with Partizan. I couldn`t imagine a better senior season development. Everything happened so fast in my Partizan career, in about year-and-a-half I was a regular and we won a double. 2017 is the year of my great memories, I believe Partizan fans have great memories of that season, too” – says former Partizan centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, now of Fiorentina.
“Keeper Kljajic injured himself 8 rounds before the end of the season. We were battling Crvena Zvezda for two trophies and, luckily, we manage to win the double. They had three points advantage but we overtook them and won them in a cup final at our ground. We won 1-0 for a deserved double” – says Partizan keeper Nemanja Stevanovic.
After winning the title, special role in build-up to cup the final had a motivational video made secretly over a month period and involving family members of Partizan players and coaches. This video of support was played to the team 20 minutes before the warm-up and sparked a flood of emotions.
“Greetings to all, especially Partizan fans, players, coaching staff and club management. I would like to seize this opportunity and go back to 2017 double. You all know what happened that year and what the outcome was – a historic title topped up a with a cup final win over the bitter rival. We made this motivational video involving parents, sisters, friends, best man`s of players and coaching staff, in cooperation with members of coaching team and club`s PR Biljana Obradovic – she was the main force behind it. It was hard to make it, fit it and keep it secret until the cup final, to make it effective, a surprise and a to send a strong message to the players when they needed the support. They needed to know their closest family members and friends are always there for them. People react differently to motivational videos, some laugh and some cry, but the joint aim was to motivate the players to play the cup final after they won the championship title, although it proved they didn`t need much additional motivation. It was a derby game, against our bitter rivals, and MIlenkovic scored a goal for Partizan to complete the double” – says former Partizan forward and assistant coach, Andrija Delibasic, now coaching assistant at Buducnost Podgorica.
“We were chasing point deficit to Crvena Zvezda that season for quite some time. But, we managed to overtake them and won the title. Of course, we wasted a lot of energy and some of the players were fatigued mentally. Winning the title was a huge thing and then you have a cup final. As for the motivation, I think everyone has it when you play a derby game, especially when you are after the domestic double. I think we were all motivated, especially after the video in a dressing room that no one knew about. They played it and it was a really good video, all our family members were in it. My sister, mother and girlfriend make a clip with me scoring a goal and it actually happened. It meant a lot to us to see this video, to see your family giving you support before the very kick-off and it helped us motivation-wise but we were already motivated to do our best and win a double” – says Nikola Milenkovic.
“You don`t need a special derby motivation but the championship worn us off as we were chasing Crvena Zvezda the whole season, so we needed a bit of additional motivation. Marko Nikolic was our coach and it seems he has some special cup methods as he won a Russian cup recently. Anyway, we managed to pull out our great strengths and win Crvena Zvezda in a cup final too” – says Nemanja Stevanovic.
“I remember it but I wasn`t involved too much as I don`t like cameras. But, I did watch it before them game and it sparked a massive emotion with me. Our families, our parents and friends gave us additional strength to win that cup derby” – says Sasa Ilic.
Next season Partizan reached the final under the guidance of coach Miroslav Djukic. Mladost Lucani was the final obstacle, on 23rd of May 2018, at Radnik Surdulica ground. Partizan won third consecutive cup final 2-1, with goals from Marko Jankovic (`31) and Sasa Zdjelar (`61).
PARTIZAN vs MLADOST
foto: Nebojsa Parausic
“I think we had a great season although many will disagree. We won the cup, qualified through Europa League group stage but being a runner-up in domestic championship is never a success when you are at Partizan. However, I think it was a good season. We had lot of troubles and we were lacking the peace needed for achievement of good results. But, I believe we had some success and I was really happy with my team” – says former Partizan boss Miroslav Djukic, who moved on to coach Sporting Gijon after Partizan spell.
“I`m really fond of my two Serbian cup finals. Luckily, we won them both. I assisted to Milenkovic for a cup final win over Crvena Zvezda and scored a goal against Mladost, so my memories of cup finals are nice. I wish all the luck to Partizan players in upcoming cup final and I think they play quite good and efficient football game now. It would be a shame if they don`t crown the season with a trophy” – said former Partizan midfielder Marko Jankovic, now of Beitar Jerusalem.
“I signed for Partizan on a final day of transfer window and I finally ended up in a club I wanted to play for so much. Moreover, that season finished the best it could, I couldn`t imagine the better ending. Jankovic scored the first goal in a cup final, I scored the second. It was a tough game as we played in Surdulica on not the best of surfaces. We started the game poorly, trailing 1-0 but Jankovic scored an excellent free-kick goal and I was lucky to score in the second half after a corner-kick for a deserved cup trophy and celebrations all the way to Belgrade” – says Sasa Zdjelar, Partizan defensive midfielder.
Final days of 2018/19 season were reserved for another Eternal derby cup final. On 23rd of May 2019 at Crvena Zvezda stadium, Bojan Ostojic scored a winner on 14 for Savo Milosevic charges to win fourth consecutive cup final.
“It was a special game for all of us, especially myself and Partizan fans, as well as for Sasa Ilci who played his final Partizan game before hanging his boots. We were all happy to win the cup and I can say I was slightly more excited as a goalscorer. I wasn`t to be up there in the box when I scored but it turned out I went forward in the right moment, purely based on instinct” – says seasoned Partizan centre-back Bojan Ostojic.
“I`m fond and proud of each and every trophy won at Partizan. But, if I had to pick one, it would be cup trophy 2001, purely because I scored and the one we won with goal from Bojan Ostojic just before the ending of my career” – says Sasa Ilic.
“For the first two set-pieces I was supposed to stay at the back to prevent counter-attacks but prior to the second set-piece I said to Urosevic to stay back instead. I jumped on a cross from Danilo Pantic and sent the ball into the right corner of the net” – says Bojan Ostojic.
Cup winning streak ended on 24th of June 2020, at Radnicki Nis Stadium. Boss Milosevic charges lost to Vojvodina after a penalty shoot-out and 90 mins two-all draw. Goals for Partizan were scored by Filip Stevanovic (`81) and Strahinja Pavlovic (`90+6) but Vojvodina won the penalty shoot-out 4-2.
“My final Partizan game, cup final last year. We were unlucky to lose it on pens. I regret I didn`t leave the club with a trophy won but that`s who it is. I think the boys have the quality now, great chances to win the cup, to return the trophy to Humska Road. I believe they`ll do it, it`s a really good team. They play well and managed a 17-game winning streak, there`s no point in questioning their quality. We`ll see what will happen and we`ll support them, naturally” – says former Partizan centre-back, now of Monaco and on loan to Cercle Brugge.
Partizan plays seventh consecutive cup final on 25th of May, away to Crvena Zvezda. Everyone wants cup trophy back to Humska Rd.
“I worked together with Stanojevic for a year. He is one top professional and I`m happy he is having a great streak of results. Stanojevic managed to create trademark Partizan team, it looks so much like him. It one aggressive side with team and fighting spirit, fast counter-attack – those are the main characteristics, I think. I wish all the best in the final, I think it will be a close, hard and tough encounter, tiny details will prevail. Partizan can win it as they have a good team and good form” – says Miroslav Djukic.
“I only missed three or four Partizan games this season, if I played or had a training session at the time. All other games I watched and cheered them on. I`m truly pleased how they played over the course of the season, especially after the winter break. They played some great football and they were close to win the league derby recently but they were not lucky enough to do so” – says Strahinja Pavlovic.
“I follows Partizan games all those years since I`ve been away. I see that they play quite well and with great confidence, they know what they are doing on the pitch at every given moment. Lots of players are scoring goals. Therefore, I believe they have a great chance of winning a trophy. I salute boss Stanojevic, he knows how to prepare his team for big games and derby matches, he is fascinating in that matter. I`m sure team will be fully focused and that`s what every Partizan fan wants to see. There will be massive pressure but I hope they will please all of us who will support Partizan on that day” – says Darko Brasanac.
“We get ready for each game individually and each one is important in its own way. Surely, derby is always a new experience and one tiny detail can prove crucial. We are aware of the importance of this match and we getting ready for it as we always do, ready to do our best to bring the trophy back home, as we did last time at Crvena Zvezda ground” – says Sasa Zdjelar.
“Regardless of the recent derby defeat, we have better stats against Crvena Zvezda lately. We don`t need special motivation for this one. They won the title this season and we have to try and win the cup, to save our season and enter the next one on a high. Let us try to win cup trophy back and go for a double next season” – says Nemanja Stevanovic.
“I use every opportunity I can to follow Partizan. It`s my second home where I made my first football steps, achieved my dreams. I think boss Stanojevic is doing a great job, team looks quite good on the field. They can fancy their chances in a cup final and I wish them all the luck. My message is to believe in yourself, your qualities and potentials, to battle until the very end and the win will be yours. I think they deserve to win the cup final after the season they had” – says Nikola Milenkovic.
“What I want to say to Partizan players ahead of this cup final is to believe in themselves, as they did so far. They played fantastic football after the winter break and I`d like to praise them all along with coaching team and boss Stanojevic. Just be brave! Some members of the team know all too well how it looks like winning the cup, expecially against Crvena Zvezda. I wish you lots of luck, we all believe in you. Just keep it strong, be brave and win the cup! Good luck to everyone” – says Andrija Delibasic.
“I`m not going to be on the stadium but I`ll be watching the cup final. I`m in touch with most of the players and support them. I know it`s a tough period for Partizan but we used to come out of bigger difficulties. In a few days, we have an opportunity to win our bitter rival and win the trophy at their ground, to make it up a bit for season behind us. Title is more important than the cup but let`s try and win the cup, at least” – says Sasa Ilic.
“I received a lot of advice as a player, it`s time I give some. They know what the game against bitter rival is, they know how they should behave. The only thing I can tell them is to try to be cool-headed, calm, stable. Simply, derby is a game of details, meaning that they have to be fully focused all 90 minutes and seize on the moments that will surely occur during the game. I hope we will all celebrate after the match” – says Sasa Ilic.