Thursday, May 5, 2022

Northern Macedonia Greatest All-Time Team

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

Euro 2020 Finals
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Historically, Yugoslavia is loaded with football talents, but they did not perform as well as they should have. They only reached two European Championship Final in the 1960's and an Olympic Gold Medal in 1960.  After the breakup of Yugoslavia,  CroatiaSerbiaSlovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have qualified for major tournaments.  I have created individual all-time teams for them.  This is the all-time team for Northern Macedonia.

In 1994, following the independence and dissolution of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Macedonia joined FIFA and UEFA as a separate entity. Under the guidance of coach Andon Dončevski, their inaugural match took place on 13 October 1993, resulting in a resounding 4-1 victory against Slovenia in a friendly. They continued their winning streak by triumphing over Slovenia and Estonia in their subsequent friendly matches.

North Macedonia made their long-awaited debut in the Finald of European Championships in 2020, which was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Competing in Group C, they faced Austria, Ukraine, and the Netherlands, unfortunately experiencing defeats in all three matches. Notably, Goran Pandev scored an equalizer against Austria in the 28th minute, while Ezgjan Alioski found the net against Ukraine. North Macedonia became the second team, alongside Finland, to make their debut in the tournament.

This is my all-time team for Northern Macedonia. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  
First ever World Cup Qualifiers in 1996

GK: Blagoje Vidinić (Yugoslavia)
Vidinić played for FK Vardar, Radnički Beograd and OFK Beograd in Yugoslavia, and then with FC Sion of Switzerland. In 1967, he joined Los Angeles Toros, and the team became San Diego Toros in the newly formed NASL, before moving to St. Louis Stars. He played for Yugoslavia in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics, winning silver in the former and gold in the latter. He also played in the 1960 European Championship when Yugoslavia finished second.
Blagoje Vidinić 
GK: Blagoj Istatov (Yugoslavia)
In 1963 he started playing for FC Belasica. He played for FC Belasica until 1968, when he signed for FC Pobeda from Prilep, and for which team he played 31 matches. In 1973 he signed for Partizan, for which team he had played 44 matches, and with this team he won first place in the 1975-1976 season in the Yugoslav First Football League. From 1976 to 1978 he played for FC Utrecht. 

GK: Petar Miloševski (Northern Macedonia)
Petar Miloševski was capped over 50 times for Northern Macedonia.  He made his senior debut for Macedonia in a March 1998 friendly match against Bulgaria and has earned a total of 59 caps, scoring no goals. His final international was a February 2009 friendly against Moldova.  He started football in FK Pelister club and later,  played for FK Vardar in the 1997-1998 season.  He transferred to Trabzonspor from FK Vardar in 1998 .  After 3 years of playing in Trabzonspor, he was transferred to Malatyaspor. 

RB/CB: Vujadin Stanojkovic (North Macedonia)
Vujadin Stanojkovic was capped 21 times and scored 1 goal for Yugoslavia between 1988 and 1992, including two matches at the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy. Between 1994 and 1995 he got 7 caps for the newly established Macedonian national team.  His main club was FK Partizan where he played between 1989 and 1993. Later, he played in Sweden for Degerfors IF and Trelleborgs FF. He retired in 1998. Born in what is now Macedona, he is an ethnic Serb.
Vujadin Stanojkovic
CB/LB: Ilija Najdoski (Yugoslavia/Northern Macedonia)
Ilija Najdoski played for Red Star Belgrade and was part of their European Cup victory in 1991. He also played in Spain for Real Valladolid in Spain's La Liga and Denizlispor in Turkey's Super Lig.  He represented both Yugoslavia and Republic of Macedonia in international matches. He played in the first ever official match of Macedonia, played on 13 October 1993, against Slovenia.

CB: Kiril Dojčinovski (Yugoslavia)
Dojčinovski started playing in the youth team of FK Vardar in 1958. He successfully made his way into the senior squad, and after a few seasons he made a transfer to Red Star Belgrade. During his club career he played for Vardar Skopje, Crvena Zvezda, Troyes and Paris FC. With Red Star he won one Yugoslav championship and one cup. Between 1968 and 1970, he played 8 times for Yugoslavia.

CB: Nikolče Noveski  (Northern Macedonia)
Noveski moved from FK Pelister Bitola to F.C. Hansa Rostock in 1998, but did not play much. He then played in the lower divsion around Germany.  After Mainz 05 was promoted to the Bundesliga, they signed him in 2004.  He beame their captain during the 2007–08 season.  He held the second appearance record for the club.  For the Macedonian national team Noveski played 64 international matches and scored five goals. 

CB: Goce Sedloski (North Macedonia)
Goce Sedloski started his career at Pobeda Prilep at home in 1994 before leaving it for Hajduk Split. He then played for Sheffield Wednesday in England before joining Dinamo Zagreb in 1998.  He also played for Japan's Vegalta Sendai, Turkey's Diyarbakirspor and Germany's SV Mattersburg.  Sedloski made his debut for the Northern Macedonian national team in 1996, earning a total of 100 caps and scoring 8 goals from then until 2010.
Goce Sedloski 
LB: Kiril Simonovski (Yugoslavia) 
Kiril Simonovski started with a local club in Skopje named FK Jug, before moving to Gragjanski Skopje in 1938.   He also played with Macedonia Skopje, FK Vardar and FK Partizan.  He played two matches for the Bulgarian national team (as Kiril Simeonov) in 1942 when the region was occupied by Bulgaria.  After the war, he was capped 10 times by Yugoslavia between 1946 and 1949.

LW/LB: Nikica Klinčarski  (Yugoslavia)
Nikica Klinčarski  played a total of 518 matches for FK Partizan between 1978 and 1985 being by this the second player with most games played in the club, behind Momčilo Vukotić with 752. He played in the Major Indoor Soccer League in the United States under the name of Nicky Klincarski in the mid-1980's.  He also played in Sweden. He played 8 times for Yugoslavia between 1980 and 1983.  He went to the 1980 Summer Olympic.

DM: Dragi Kanatlarovski (Yugoslavia/Northern Macedonia)
Kanatlarovski played for FK Pelister before moving to FK Vardar where he will play 4 seasons. In 1989, he moved to Red Star Belgrade. He played one season in Belgrade., After that season he moved to Spain where he helped Deportivo La Coruña to be promoted back to La Liga.  He earned his only cap for Yugoslavia in 1990. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia he represented Macedonia 9 times between 1993 and 1995. He played in the first ever official match of Macedonia in 1993.

DM: Boško Gjurovski (Yugoslavia/Northern Macedonia)
Boško Gjurovski was a long-time servant of Red Star Belgrade, where he played for eleven years. He was very much loved by Red Star fans, especially after his brother, Milko, joined bitter rivals FK Partizan.  Between 1989 and 1995, he played for Servette in Switzerland.  He earned a total of 4 caps for Yugoslavia. In 1994, he accepted a call-up to represent Northern Macedonia. He earned a total of 7 caps, scoring 3 goals.

AM/RW: Eljif Elmas (Northern Macedonia)
Elmas started his career at FK Rabotnički in his native Macedonia.  After two seasons with Fenerbahçe, he moved to Napoli in 2019.  Elmas was born in Macedonia to a family of Turkish descent.  He represented Northern Macedonia in football.  At the time of writing, he has 38 caps.  He is one of the country's best players.  He helped the national team to reach the Finals of Euro 2020 as well as a wonderful run in the World Cup Qualification for Qatar 2022.
Eljif Elmas 
AM/LW: Enis Bardhi  (Northern Macedonia)
Bardhi started his career for KSF Prespa Birlik in Sweden.  From 2014 to 2017, he played for Ujpest in Hungary.  In 2017, he joined Levante in Spain.  He became a star with the team.  He was eligible to represent North Macedonia , Albania or Kosovo in football.  Since 2015, he played for Northern Marcedonia.  He was Macedonian Footballer of the Year in 2017.  He is one of the country's best players.  He helped the national team to reach the Finals of Euro 2020 as well as a wonderful run in the World Cup Qualification for Qatar 2022.

WF: Metodije Spasovski (Yugoslavia)
Spasovski played a total of 647 games in all competitions between 1963 and 1974 for hometown club Vardar, scoring 212 goals and ranking him second on both the club's record appearances and scorers lists. He later played for  FC Saarbrücken in Germany.  He made his senior debut for Yugoslavia in a December 1968 friendly match against Brazil in which he immediately scored a goal and has earned a total of 3 caps, scoring 3 goals. 

AM: Dragoslav Sekularac (Yugoslavia)
Dragoslav Sekularac was considered one of the best player in Yugoslavia and Red Star Belgrade history.  From 1955 to 1966, he played for Red Star Belgrade. He later played for Independiente Santa Fe in Colombia for five seasons, before transferring to Millonarios from Bogotá and ending his playing career in the German Bundesliga with Karlsruher SC.  For Yugoslavia, he played 41 times. He played in the 1958 and 1962 World Cup Finals, where his team reached the semifinal in 1962.  
Dragoslav Sekularac
CM : Toni Savevski (Yugoslavia/Macedonia)
Savevski is widely regarded as one of the best foreign players to have played in the Greek football league. He started his career in Pelister Bitola and then played for Vardar Skopje until 1988.He spent 13 years with AEK, winning the Greek championship 4 times (1989, 1992, 1993, 1994) and the Greek cup (1996, 1997, 2000) 3 times. He earned  2 caps for Yugoslavia before debuting for Macedonia in1994. He earned another 8 caps for Macedonia.

FW Vasil Ringov (Yugoslavia)
Ringov played with FK Partizan and FK Teteks. where he would become the club's main star. From 1977 to 1983, he played for FK Vardar. He became the main player at the club, having played until 1986.  He had a half season spell in NK Dinamo Zagreb, and near the end of his playing career, another half season spell, this time in 2. German Bundesliga club Eintracht Braunschweig.

FW: Kuzman Sotirović (Yugoslavia)
Sotirović first started playing in youth sections at BSK Belgrade, and, after becoming a standard first-team member, won the best championship scorer in 1928, scoring 6 goals in 5 appearances. The very next season he went to France and played for FC Sète and Montpellier SC.  Between 1928 and 1931 Sotirović also played for Yugoslavia. He is considered to be the first player born on the territory of modern-day North Macedonia to play in the Yugoslav national team.

FW/LW: Goran Pandev (North Macedonia)
Goran Pandev was the greatest and the most important footballer for North Macedonia after the post-Soviet era,  He began his football career with FK Belasica.  He played for Lazio from 2004 to 2009.  He also played for Inter Milan, where he won the 2010 Champions' League Final, starting in the Final match on the left side.  He also played for Napoli, Galatasaray and Genoa.  With Napoli, he won Coppa Italia: 2011–12, 2013–14. He was capped over 100 times for Macedonia. 
Goran Pandev 
ST: Sokrat Mojsov (Yugoslavia) 
Sokrat Mojsov started his career with Vardar as a youth player, and quickly moved up the ranks to the senior team. He played 362 times and scored 166 goals in all competitions for them. He played 2 years in France for Stade Rennais, in Ligue 1 and retired in 1973.  He played 3 times for Yugoslavia between 1964 and 1966.  He was known for his header ability.  His first international was against the Soviet Union.

ST: Milko Gjurovski (Yugoslavia/North Macedonia)
Djurovski started out at Red Star Belgrade, making his senior debut in 1979, aged 16. He spent a total of 7 seasons in their first team, winning two national championships.  In 1986, Djurovski made a controversial move to rivals Partizan. He stayed for four years.  Internationally, Djurovski represented both Yugoslavia and Macedonia. He earned six caps for Yugoslavia between 1984 and 1985, scoring two goals. He briefly played for  Macedonia, making 3 appearances in 1994. 

ST:  Darko Pancev (Yugoslavia/North Macedonia)
Darko Pancev was the European Golden Boot winner in 1991 when he scored 34 goals.  With Red Star Belgrade, he scored 84 goals from 91 league appearances, and winning the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup in 1991.  In 1992, he made a move to Inter Milan, but his career never took off after the European Cup. He also played for Fortuna Düsseldorf in Germany. He was capped 27 times for Yugoslavia and 6 times for Macedonia.
Darko Pancev 

Honorable Mention
Stole Dimitrievski, Oka Nikolov, Jane Nikolovski, Tome Pachovski, Igor Mitreski, Boban Babunski, Čedomir Janevski, Stefan Ristovski, Nikica Klinčarski, Kočo Dimitrovski, Branko Klenkovski, Artim Šakiri,Veliče Šumulikoski, Spasoje Nikolic, Vanco Balevski, Kuzman Sotirović, Milko Gjurovski, Ezgjan Alioski, Mitko Stojkovski, Agim Ibraimi, Ilija Nestorovski, Gjorgji Hristov, Ilija Nestorovski, Saša Ćirić, Aleksandar Trajkovski.

Squad Explanation
-- The blog team was created in 2014 as the "former Yugoslavia all-time team without Croatia and Serbia" team.  In 2020, I decided to separate Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia from this team.  Thus, the team became Northern Macedonia/Monetenegro/Kosovo all-time team.  Finally, I created a separated team for 
Montenegro and Northern Macedonia, but Kosovo is a difficult team top research.
-- Northern Macedonia is relatively new to international football. So I found this team very hard to research.  So I am unsure if I got my selections correctly.
-- The ethnic issue is very sensitive in the region.  I used both birthplace and/or ethnicity as criteria for players who played under the former Yugoslavia.  I used national team as the criteria for the players after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
-- Kiril Simonovski is known as the first Macedonian to play for the national team of Yugoslavia.  However, researchers later concluded Kuzman Sotirovic who was born in Gostivar but grew up in Belgrade was the first footballer from here capped by Yugoslavia.  He represented the country in the 1928 Olympics. He played for Sete and Montpellier in France between 1928 to 1932.
-- The Euro 2020 Finals was Northern Macedonia's first major tournament that they had qualified.  After the tournament, North Macedonia reached the UEFA World Cup qualifying play-offs by finishing second in their group behind Germany.  They won five of their ten games, including a 2-1 victory over the Germany.  In the playoff, they beat the defending European Champion Italy 1-0 before losing to Portugal in the final playoff match.  I selected three players from that generation.  They were Eljif Elmas, Enis Bardhi and Goran Pandev.  Pandev is probably the greatest player ever from this region in terms of contributions.  
-- Maski Magazin named their 5 greatest players from North Macelonia in 2021. Goce Sedloski, Artim Šakiri, George Hristov, Enis Bardi and Goran Pandev.
-- The IFFHS created their All-Time Dream Team for North Macedona.  Their starting eleven were Blagoje Vidinić, Vujadin Stanojković, Ilija Najdoski, Kiril Dojčinovski , Kiril Simonovski, Dragi Kanatlarovski, Boban Babunski, Toni Savevski, Vasil Ringov, Darko Pančev and Goran Pandev.
-- The named their All-Time Best XI in 2023.  Their lineup was as followed: Dragan Mutibarić, Vujadin Stanojkovic, Ilija Najdoski, Kiril Dojčinovski , Kiril Simonovski, Metodija Spasovski, Toni Savevski, Kočo Dimitrovski, Darko Pančev and Goran Pandev.
-- Blagoje Vidinić was often mentioned as their greatest goalkeeper. He played in the 1960 European Championship Final against the Soviet Union.  The Soviet goalkeeper on that match was Lev Yashin.
-- Petar Miloševski is the most capped goalkeeper for Northern Macedonia. He edged out another post-Yugoslavia goalkeeper Tome Pachovski.
Petar Miloševski
-- The big question was Dragan Mutibarić.  He actually was born in Serbia.  He joined Varder in 1966 at the age of around 20 years old.  However, he was often honored as an all-time great in Macedonia even through he was not from the region.  He simply played club football over there.  For the former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, I found many such cases.  In order to maintain consistency across all my teams, I made the decision to base my selections on birthplace and ethnicity as the primary criteria. Consequently, I opted not to choose Mutibarić for this particular case.
-- After careful consideration, I ultimately chose Blagoje Istatov for the third spot. Although his name did not appear in any English language rankings, I came across numerous Macedonian sources that praised his exceptional skills. One particular Macedonian source even mentioned that Dragan Mutibaric, a respected figure, regarded Istatov as one of the finest goalkeepers from the region.  According to his wikipedia profile page in Macedonian, he played for the Yugoslavian national team. However, I found no information on it. His Obituary from Partizan made no mention of it. 
-- Stole Dimitrievski was the starting goalkeeper at the Euro 2022 Finals.  At the time of writing, he is the starting goalkeeper at Rayo Vallencano.  However, most of his career was spent on the lower division. The German-born Oka Nikolov's career was between between the top two divisions.  I also looked into Jane Nikolovski.  
-- The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) listed Kiril Dojčinovski and Ilija Najdoski as their starting central defenders on their Northern Macedonia All-Time Best XI team.  I took both of them. I was going to take Najdoski without looking at IFFHS.  He was a member of my Red Star Belgrade All-Time team.  
-- Then, I selected Goce Sedloski who had played 100 times for Northern Macedonia and served many times as their captain. He was their second most capped player. 
-- I opted to select Nikolče Noveski over Čedomir Janevski. While Janevski appeared in numerous lists, his playing time during his club career in Belgium was limited. On the other hand, Noveski enjoyed a lengthy and successful tenure with Mainz 04, where he holds the esteemed title of being the second-highest appearance record holder. 
Nikolče Noveski 
-- Then, I took Vujadin Stanojkovic who played as both central defender and rightback.  He had experience playing in the World Cup. He is an ethnic Serb, but he chose to play for Macedonia, where he was born. So he is eligible due to his national team.  Ideally, I should take another rightback. Stefan Ristovski of their Euro 2020 team made honorable mention.
-- Kiril Simonovski (North Macedonia) was the first Macedonian to play for the post-1945 Yugoslav national team.  He was the first Macedonian captain of the national team .  I honoured him with a spot for his historical role.  Nikica Klinčarski is the second player with most games played in the Partizan.  He was listed as a left wing, but I believed he was also a leftback.  Ezgjan Alioski had been an important player for Leeds United, but he mainly played in the lower division.  He made honorable mention along with Mitko Stojkovski who played in the Bundesliga. 
-- Boban Babunski was also mentioned.  Babunski had two sons, David and Dorian.  The former played youth football with FC Barcelona, whilst the latter did the same at Real Madrid.  They might be the only brothers who had played for the two rivals in La Liga.
-- I did not have many choices for defensive midfielders.  I selected Dragi Kanatlarovski and Boško Gjurovski.  Both were mentioned frequently.  Kanatlarovski seemed to be one of FK Vardar's greatest midfielders.  Boško Gjurovski was a legend with Red Stars Belgrade. His brother Milko made honorable mentions as a forward (see below). 
Arijan Ademi was banned by UEFA for two years after he failed a drug test.  This did not affect his status with this team, I just did not select him. Veliče Šumulikoski was another option at this position.  
-- Branko Klenkovski who spent many seasons playing for Red Stars Belgrade was listed among the greatest from here.  He was one of the most decorated players in the club's history.  I believed that he was a defensive midfielder. However,  I did not take him because he was born in Belgrade.  I did not know how he was connected to the region.
-- During my research on AEK Athens, I discovered Toni Savevski, who is widely regarded as one of the three greatest foreign players to have ever graced the Greek league. He played a pivotal role in AEK's most successful period. In fact, a fan poll even named him as AEK's greatest foreign player, surpassing the likes of Rivaldo.
-- I also looked into Blerim Džemaili who was born in Northern Macedonia, but grew up in Switzerland..  He made 280 appearances in Serie A, but he was ineligible because he played for Switzerland.
-- Born in what is now Northern Macedonia, Dragoslav Sekularac's father was Montenegrin heritage, a factor that led me to include him on Montenegro All-Time teame. He was nicknamed "King of Dribble".  Regarded as one of the finest players to emerge from Yugoslavia, he made the Team of the Tournament in Euro 1960, where Yugoslavia finished second as well as helping Yugoslavia to reach semi-final of the 1962 World Cup. 
-- At the time of writing, Eljif Elmas is only 22 years old, but he has done enough to be on this team.  He already made his mark for Napoli in Italy.  He was Northern Macedonian Footballer of the Year in 2019.  He played in a major tournament (Euro 2020) and contributed to Northern Macedonia's great World Cup qualifying campaign in 2022 as one of their most important players.  
-- Enis Bardhi is a versatile player.  He is an attack or central midfielder, but he can also play as a left winger.  He is one of Levante's greatest footballers.  He is their highest ever foreign scorer.  He is probably one of greatest player ever from North Macedonia.
Enis Bardhi
-- I do not know which side of the wing Metodije Spasovski played on, but he was mentioned many times as one of Northern Macedonia's greatest footballers.
-- Vasil Ringov was a hero of Vardar.  He was selected by the IFFHS on their All-Time Northern Macedonia Best XI.
-- Spasoje Nikolic played in Italy and France during the 1950's.  He was a pioneer in football, but I only put him on honorable mention.
-- Agim Ibraimi won Northern Macedonia Player of the Year twice.  
He was left footed, but played on the right wing.  But I decided not to select him.  
-- Goran Pandev had a long successful career playing in Italy, including winning the Champions' League with Inter Milan. His national team career lasted for more than 20 years.  He led them to Euro 2020 Finals. He is the most important player ever from here.  He is the country's all-time top scorer with 38 goals.
-- In 1991, Darko Pancev won the prestigious European Golden Boot with an impressive tally of 34 goals. Although his career beyond his time at Red Star Belgrade faced challenges, he was honored as Macedonia's UEFA Jubilee player, a title bestowed upon him as the nation's most outstanding player over the past 50 years.
-- Andon Dončevski is FK Vardar's all-time leading scorer.  I rewarded him for being a local hero.  I also selected Sokrat Mojsov for the same reason.
-- Kuzman Sotirović might be a surprise selection.  He was the first player born here to have represented Yugoslavia.  He played in the French league.
Kuzman Sotirović
-- Aleksandar Trajkovski is the second all-time leading scorer for Northern Macedonia.  He was named North Macedonia Player of the Year in 2015.  He scored the winning goal against Italy that sent the national team to the UEFA World Cup playoff against Portugal in 2022.  However, his career within the top flights in Italy and Spain did not standout.  He spent more time in lower division over there.  I only out him on honorable mention.
-- Aleksandar Trajkovski is the second highest goal scorer in the history of Northern Macedonia, has made a significant impact on the national team. One of Trajkovski's most memorable moments arrived when he scored the decisive goal against Italy, securing his team's place in the UEFA World Cup playoff against Portugal in 2022. However, Trajkovski's career within the top flights of Italy and Spain did not reach great heights, as he predominantly featured in lower divisions. While recognizing his talents, I have only placed him in an honorable mention category. 
-- When Milko Gjurovski moved to Partizan from Red Stars Belgrade, it caused a big controversy in Yugoslavia at the time.  His transfer was ranked the 13th most important and significant in the history of Yugoslav football.  He was the 23rd player taken. 
-- I also studied Gjorgji Hristov, Ilija Nestorovski and Saša Ćirić.