For many English football fans Stefan Savic would have been just another name floating in mind as a distant memory before Chelsea drew Atletico Madrid to the Champions League round of 16.
The Montenegrin defender made a decent first-leg exit as the Blues claimed a 1-0 victory in the Spanish capital. But Tuesday night’s second leg at Stamford Bridge, which Chelsea won 2-0 and Savic saw red, could have been a reminder of his inconsistencies and mistakes on the blue side of the Manchester shirt.
So, let’s take a nice old trip down memory lane and relive Savic’s short-lived, dull spell in Man City – Stefan, look away now.
At just 20 years old, the defender had become a key figure in helping Partizan Blegrade to double the Serbian league and cup in the 2010/11 season, during which he actually had a ten-day try with Arsenal before to go to the Gunners. fell through.
His form throughout this campaign was enough to grab Roberto Mancini’s attention, and in July 2011 Cityzens shelled out £ 6million for his services. Just over a month after his arrival, Savic became the very first Montenegrin to play in the Premier League, making a 16-minute appearance against Swansea in a 4-0 win on Matchday 1.
The early stages of his career at City were actually only promising. In the first half of the season, Savic made seven Premier League appearances while starting all City League Cup games and two Champions League games – always finishing on the winning side and keeping eight white sheets. He even scored his first goal for City in just four appearances when he scored the fourth in a 4-0 beating against Blackburn on October 1, 2011.
But that’s where the good times ended. As Vincent Kompany served a four-match ban in January and third-choice center-back Kolo Touré at the Africa Cup of Nations, Savic was forced to join the starting XI for his partner Joleon Lescott.
Although he found himself on the winning side more often than not, it was with the added pressure on his shoulders that unnecessary mistakes began to emerge. Small glimpses of nervousness and a lack of focus cast doubt in most people’s minds that he could in fact be a reliable defender.
He notably offered Jermain Defoe a goal in City’s 3-2 win over Tottenham in late January, while conceding a penalty against Liverpool (who would eventually win the competition) in the first leg of the Cup semi-final. of the League.
Savic never played regularly for Cityzens again after his poor form and ended the 2011/12 season with 21 appearances (many on the bench or being hooked at half-time), and just 11 in the Premier League – enough to a winner’s medal in May, so it wasn’t that bad.
His last game for the club would come in the 2012/13 season’s curtain-raiser, following half-time in a 3-2 Community Shield win over Chelsea. The Montenegrin secured a transfer to Fiorentina from Serie A that summer and has become a regular for them, making 108 appearances in three seasons.
Before the start of the 2015/16 season, he moved to Atletico Madrid for around € 10million where he was a regular with Diego Simeone’s side, making 193 appearances for Los Rojiblancos so far, including a Champions League final in 2016 – becoming the first Montenegrin. to feature in lighting in the 21st century.