Vladimir Stojkovič and that ever present headband
Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovič is often spotted playing with either a striped or plain white headband. He is one of the few goalkeepers who play football with a headband, but he proves the versatility of the hugely underrated sports equipment.Vladimir has been a legend between the sticks since his arrival to the footballing world back in 2001. He is one of the small list of Serbian footballing legends that has played for both Partizan and Red Star, the two Belgrade clubs with the infamous rivalry adored by all football fans in Eastern Europe. He has featured in the ‘Eternal Derby’, twice for his first club Red Star and eleven times for his successful and current spell at Partizan.
The Stojkovič’s are a goalkeeper family, with the biggest name being the eldest Vladimir. Vlad’s brother Vladan played for Serbian teams before settling in Portugal playing for Leça for 6 years. Vladan’s son, whose also a goalkeeper and also named Vladimir, played for Sporting’s youth teams.
Vladimir started his career at Red Star Belgrade, as a youth prospect that could eventually rise in the ranks to become a starting number 1. Red Star had other plans however. He was loaned to Bosnian side Leotar, before moving back to Belgrade for Zemun. A season at Red Star again in which he played 21 appearances at the age of 22 was one of his most memorable. He saved a crucial penalty from Antonio Cassano who attempted a Panenka-shot, as Red Star beat A.S. Roma 3–1 at home in the UEFA Cup. He became a Red Star fan favourite after winning the Double, but it would end up being his last season at Red Star.
In the Summer of 2006, he made his first trans-national move to French side Nantes for a rumoured €3 Million. This was where his career took a downturn however, as a bad run of form toward the business end of the season caused a rift within the dressing room. After being out of favour with manager also, he was loaned out to Dutch side Vitesse for 6 months.
He signed for Portuguese side Sporting CP in 2007, seven years after his brother retired in Portugal. His 5-year deal started out well, but after an injury during his starting season and yet another bout with a disgruntled manager, he was playing the role of loaned yet again. His trial with Everton at the hopes of getting a loan deal fell through, after Everton brass were warned of his temperament before the trial had started. In 2009, Sporting loaned him out to Spanish side Getafe, meaning he had played for five clubs in just three years.
His luck turned around however, as a wonderful spell at Getafe spurred an interest for a buyout fee. He saved shots from the likes of Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi that season, but Sporting couldn’t work out a fee. After at Wigan Athletic loan, he was loaned back to Serbia with Partizan. This was an extremely controversial move at the time, with Stojkovič receiving death threats. However, this turned out to be one of the more beneficial moves of his career. He won three consecutive SuperLigas with Partizan in his first spell, and won Partizan player of the year in 2013 during his second spell.
Despite playing for many different clubs in Serbia, Bosnia, France, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Israel and England; it’s difficult to brush aside his legendary international career. He is Serbia’s most capped goalkeeper and is the country’s tied sixth most capped player. Having lived through the traumatic events during the breakup of Yugoslavia and making many controversial or questionable career choices, he has had a fruitful playing career with many medals and accolades.