Milos Pantovic: First Serbian to Don Bayern shirt in 25 Years
Posted on 02nd December 2015
It has been a quarter of a century since a Serbian footballer last played for Bayern Munich.
It was in 1989 when former Yugoslav international Radmilo Mihajlovic moved from Dinamo Zagreb to West Germany where he signed for the Bavarian giants. Mihajlovic amassed 34 league appearances and scored 4 goals for Bayern Munich, before he was transferred to Schalke 04 a year later.
From Branko Oblak to Robert Kovac, Hasan Salihamidzic, Ivica Olic and most recently Mario Mandzukic, Bayern Munich have had their fair share of Balkan talent over the course of last thirty years.
It wasn’t until 2015, however, that Serbia have had their representative in the squad of Germany’s greatest football club.
Milos Pantovic was born in Munich in 1996 to parents from Arilje, a small town in Central Serbia and the 19-year-old forward was never too shy when it came to speaking proudly of his Serbian origin.
“I love Arilje. I use every moment of spare time to visit Serbia and my parents’ home town. I really enjoy every time I go there”, said Milos Pantovic.
This young Serbian starlet is a proper utility player, who can operate in a number of positions.
Naturally a right winger, the 19-year-old is often deployed as right midfielder and attacking midfielder, but can also successfully fill in the forward position.
Bayern Munich have invested a great deal in this player, who has been with the Bavarians since his tender age of nine, when he joined the Bayern Munich Junior Team.
Renowned for their committed and dedicated work with young players, Bayern Munich have seen plenty of talent coming through their ranks, but not as many as they would have liked it in most recent years. David Alaba is the latest academy pearl to overcome the challenges and succeed as professional footballer in this great club, and one of Guardiola’s main tasks in Bayern was to ensure that the club took a huge step towards asserting their dominance through youth levels.
Milos Pantovic, along with his teammate Joshua Kimmich, looks set to live up to the expectations following his impressive performances in Bayern’s reserve team this season. The total of 17 games in Regionalliga Bayern, five goals, two assists to his name and 956 minutes of action were more than enough to catch the eye of Pep Guardiola, whose call came as a just reward for this young man’s efforts.
“Guardiola is one of the best managers in the world. I am grateful that he recognized my hard work in the youth team”, enthused the youngster.
Pantovic’s excitement was obvious after he was granted his first minutes in Bundesliga, against Werder Bremen in October.
Young winger was introduced in the dying moments of the game, coming on for Arturo Vidal. He wasn’t expected to make an impression in little time he was granted from the Bayern boss, but he was meant to recognize the intention.
As an unlikely name to come up through the ranks and to prominence, Pantovic was thus given a clear message from Guardiola, who appreciates his dedication and commitment. Couple of minutes in the game against Werder and 90 minutes on the bench against Hertha Berlin last weekend will serve as the precious experience for this young lad, as the motivation to push him further on and make him an inspiration to young players around him upon his return to reserve team.
Much to surprise of the European public and football fans around the globe, one person was also astonished to see a Serbian name donning the Bayern shirt and coming on for great Arturo Vidal – the Serbian Under-21 coach Tomislav Sivic.
Funny, border-line embarrassing story.
Day after Pantovic’s season debut for Bayern, Serbia Under-21 national coach Tomislav Sivic publicly expressed his astonishment over finding out that there was a Serbian player in Bayern Munich.
“I was completely shocked to see a Serbian coming on for Bayern”, he said.
“I called the FA immediately and got some more information about him. I will watch him next week and then we will know if he could help us in the following qualifying games against Italy and Slovenia”, Sivic reported before the last international break, much to the amazement of the Serbian football community, which was, on its own part, also shocked to have a coach ignorant of this huge potential plying his trade in one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Luckily, Milos Pantovic is no stranger to the Serbian national team.
The Serbian FA keep a close watch on the lad, who was first introduced in the Under-16 set-up by Veljko Paunovic as the 12-year-old.
Despite being born in Germany, Pantovic had never had any doubts about his choices.
“My parents are from Serbia. Germany never contacted me, but even if they did Serbia is my first choice. I was first called to join the team and meet up with the national squad when I was 12, but later on no one called me for various reasons. Since 2007, however, the FA has been following my progress in Bayern”, he said earlier in November.
Tomislav Sivic kept his word and went to Germany to pick up on Milos Pantovic.
The talented striker was consequently handed his Serbia Under-21 debut on 17th November in a 2-0 loss at the hands of Slovenia away. Pantovic had been previously called by Serbia Under-19 coach Ivan Tomic for the international friendly against Croatia, but was not given a chance to feature.
However, there is no doubt that Bayern debut has put much limelight upon this youngster who is projected for a successful career.
Balkan raw talent and German work ethics are enough of the guarantees that he will succeed.
About the author – Miloš Markovic
Sports journalist from Serbia, Editor in Cheif at Sportske.net and contributor to FutbolgradLive. Worked with Inforstrada and FIFA covering Serbia’s international games during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.