The Serbian manager relives taking five countries to five different editions of the global showpiece on his 76th birthday
Former Super Eagles head coach Bora Milutinovic says that he considers it a ‘great honour’ to have been allowed to guide Nigeria, Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, and China PR at different editions of the FIFA World Cup.
He is the first football manager to take four nations past the group stage at the World Cup.
Milutinovic first helped host Mexico reach the quarterfinals at the 1986 tournament before leading Costa Rica and the United States (again, as hosts) to the knockout stages of the next two editions.
It was the turn of the Super Eagles in 1998, and Milutinovic guided Nigeria’s star-studded side to a first-place finish in a group that included European giants Spain and Bulgaria. But a disappointing 4-1 loss to Denmark halted the team’s adventure in the knockout round.
The Serb revealed the secrets to his success across the three continents of North America, Africa, and Asia in a chat with fifa.com:
“When I am coaching in a country, I feel almost like I become a citizen of that country.
“This was the same in Mexico and Nigeria and even China. I look closely at the traits of the people and what moves them, and I try to respond to these things.”
Born on the 7th of September, 1944, Milutinovic turns 76 today, and the former Monaco midfielder insists nothing he achieved during his playing and coaching career, which spanned over five decades, can compare with taking a team to the World Cup.
“But for me, there is nothing like the World Cup. To bring a team to the ultimate – to that level – there’s’s no feeling like it in the world.
“Sometimes I think about it – I think about having brought so many teams to the World Cup, and just to have been involved in so many World Cups – and I can hardly even believe it.
“To me, it’s’s still a dream. It will always be a dream, and I will always be grateful to have lived it,” the former Jamaica national team manager added.