On the 21st of August 1977, a handsome Serbian boy by the name of Veljko Paunovic made his debut into the world. He was the son of Blagoje, a footballer defender of the Partizan team that represented Yugoslavia at UEFA Euro 1968. With a father being a football legend, who also eventually held a stellar managerial career, Veljko was inspired to follow his father’s footsteps.
He himself trained very hard to become a football player for his country. He shared that the war in Yugoslavia affected his life, just as it had many other people. In fact, its impact was immense and it influenced the direction that he and a lot of his countrymen took in their life. Veljoko Paunovic recounted that there was a time that gas was unavailable, so there were no buses to take him to training. He sometimes had to walk for hours just to get to the training ground.
Veljko Paunovic recalled those hard days with melancholy. He said the hardest part was not walking, but it was going to train without food because life was really made very difficult by the war. However, since he was very young at that time, he could only look forward into the future with nothing but hope. Veljko Paunovic remained positive and optimistic in spite of the harsh living conditions.
He shared that football became his escape, his salvation, and his refuge from his chaotic environment. Veljko Paunovic was only 17 when he made his debut with Partizan, the same team of his father. His only regret is that his father died early on and was unable to see him make great strides in football. After all, his whole life had been about this sport and it was all thanks to his dad’s mentorship.
The following summer after his stint with Partizan, he moved to Spain where he spent the next decade playing for different clubs. A proficient striker and mid-fielder, he started off with CA Marbela. He also play for RCD Mallorca and reached the same UEFA Cup competition, where he is noted for scoring an impressive five goals in this campaign. On top of that, he had three separate stints with Atletico Madrid. Because of the many years that he spent in the country, he eventually receive his Spanish citizenship in 2006.
Noteworthy, he also spent a short time in Germany. He was also once drafted by the New York Red bulls, but he turned down their one year contract offer. Veljko ended up with the Philadelphia Union, instead. After this, he announced his retirement from the game because he wanted to pursue coaching, which is the very same path his father took.
He began working as the manger for the Serbian national team, helping the under 20 win the FIFA World Cup in 2015. Because of this victory, He was appointed as the head coach of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Veljko Paunovic has a stellar reputation for being a wonderful coach that really inspire his players to be their best. In the same token, he inspires his four children and he hopes to influence them positively just as his own father did for him.