Here’s one for the youth team hipsters and Championship Manager enthusiasts. This is called The Forgotten Lot after all, and it might not get more obscure than this guy. Bojan Djordjic was the next big thing back in 1999 when he was playing for United’s reserves, 18 years old with pace and technical ability lead to comparisons with Giggsy. Unfortunately, like most of our subjects in this little series, it wasn’t to be and the Swede/Serbian flier ended up leaving United without showing even a glimpse of that potential. What went wrong and did he ever get his career back on track?
There is little info on his time before coming to United. He was born in Yugoslavia (now Serbia) to an ex professional footballer. However, due to the ongoing Bosnian war, a 10 year old Djordjic fled to Sweden with his parents where he would find his first professional club IF Brommapojkarna who were known in Sweden at the time for bringing in young talent. (yes I had to copy/paste that name). Due to this he would decide to represent Sweden in the Under Age categories, but never making a senior appearance. Nevertheless, his talent was spotted by United scouts and he was confirmed a Manchester United player by the beginning of the 1999 season at only 17 years old.
Explosive, creative and never afraid to try something out of the ordinary, Djordjic was a player who would rather try for the killer pass or the winning goal before playing it safe, he put it into his own words, “I was not one of them steady-eddy midfielders—put the ball in the stands and get applause” . At first, this was working for him, he was even training regularly with the first team and in United’s reserve team he was tearing it up, staff and fans alike were excited about his potential. An excellent first season in England was topped off with the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2000 for Bojan.
The world it seemed, was at his feet. But the next few seasons were not so productive for the winger. With Giggs still tearing down the wings week in, week out and without sign of slowing, chances for Bojan were limited. He would go on to make two appearances for United (which I believe were against Arsenal and Tottenham but I can’t find a source for this) before being sent out on loan for three consecutive seasons at Sheffield Wednesday, AGF and Red Star. The latter of which would see him playing alongside future United captain, Nemanja Vidic.
It seems Bojan was having a hard time with the lack of progress he was making into the first team. His attitude became problematic and his work ethic became limited, he recalls, “I wasn’t lazy but I didn’t go the extra mile. If we were running, I’d be happy to coast in the middle of the group rather than to try to get to the front” . This attitude did not help, especially when accompanied with incidents involving him walking off the training pitch during drills and exercises.
After 4 and a half years of little opportunity and little progress, Bojan told Sir Alex Ferguson he wanted to leave United and he moved on to Rangers on a free transfer in January 2005.
He lasted only 6 months at Rangers, in a side that ended up winning the Scottish Championship yet he was only to make 5 appearances. He moved back to England that summer, to Plymouth Argyle under Ian Holloway.
At the Green Army, he played a significant role in the first team in the two years he spent on the coast. Making 44 apperances and scoring 4 goals (which, according to both wikipedia and transfermarkt, is the most he’s scored for any one club). But once again, despite being now in his mid twenties, Bojan couldn’t shake his attitude and an incident involving him storming off the pitch after being substitued in a friendly saw his contract mutually terminated in 2007.
It’s not all doom and gloom in the career of Djordjic. His next club saw him return to Sweden with AIK. There, he won two league titles and is held in high regard by fans of the club, he even turned down a lucrative offer to Maccaibi Haifi to stay and help the team win the league despite his injury problems.
After terminating his contract early at AIK, he never managed more than one season at a club, playing for Videton in 2010-11 and then once more returning to English coast with Blackpool and Ian Holloway again, where he was paid so little, old friend John O’Shea had to help him cover his living costs .
Another mutual termination followed and one year spells with Antwerp, a return to IF Brommapojkarna and Vasalund before his was drafted for the inaugural Indian Super League season by Chennai FC.
He currently manages Rinkeby United in the 6th tier of Swedish football and went semi viral with this passionate team talk at half time when his team was trailing 2-0, they went on to win the game 3-2. He also currently writes for Viasat Sport, a Nordic and Eastern European channel where he recently interviewed John O’Shea
Bojan Djordjic was one of the most promising players to ever feature in the United youth team. I, and I presume many other Championship Manager fans, was gutted when he didn’t make it. He acknowledges the pressures of playing for United, even at youth level, but admits he doesn’t hold any grudges toward those who placed him on a pedestal and admits to pride at playing for the club, “There was pressure, fans were saying ‘This one is up and coming’, and when you get the tag of an ‘up and coming star’ at United all eyes are on you. If you fail people are going to be on your case but I enjoyed it…Maybe I didn’t make it as a player there but as a human being I left a trace on one of the biggest clubs in the world”
Squad Number: 32
Position: Left Midfielder
Left: January 2005
Clubs: 11 (Excl. Loans)
Current Club: Rinkeby United (Manager)
Senior Caps: 0
Senior Goals: 0
This post first appeared on reddit/r/reddevils