Saturday Apr 10, 2021  
  24/12/2012: The Doctor
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Vladimir Petković was born in Sarajevo on August 15, 1963. He is of Croatian ethnicity and holds Croatian and Swiss passports, in addition to his Bosnian passport, acquired due to his birth. Both of his parents worked as teachers, and they worked in many schools in different locations.

Nicknamed Il Dottore (The Doctor), Petković is fluent in eight languages. In addition to his native Serbo-Croatian and Bosnian, he also speaks Italian, French, English, Spanish, German and Russian.

Petković started playing football since eleven years of age before joining the youth sector of his hometown side FK Sarajevo. He remained at FK Sarajevo and began his professional career in the early 1980s. He was part of the Sarajevo side that won the 1984–85 Yugoslav First League.

He emigrated from Yugoslavia in 1987, leaving FK Sarajevo and moving permanently to Switzerland, where he joined second division club FC Chur in 97, before he moved to the Swiss top Divison joining a strong FC Sion side. Sion managed a third place finish in the Nationalliga, but Petković left the club at the end of the season. After leaving Sion, Petković moved back into the lower tiers, first joining FC Martigny-Sports before returning to his former Swiss club, Chur, where he enjoyed a career as a regular goalscoring midfielder.

In the late 90s, he decided to end his playing career and worked as a teacher, until he came in contact with the charity organization Caritas as a volunteer. He worked full-time for five and half year with Caritas. He had a responsibility to take care a group of unemployed young men. One of his duties was to collect clothes and furniture from different donation stations around the small city of Locarno (Switzerland), but mostly his everyday life was to motivate, encourage, and bring back the joy of those youngsters.

After a few years, he was persuaded to coach an amateur team during evenings, and slowly football came back into his life. At 5 pm he went straight from volunteer job to practice and noticed with surprise that he didn't have to change his way of thinking. The same duties and methods applied for 20 unemployed young men, and 20 ambitious football talents.

At the beginning of the 2008–09 season, he was appointed as manager of Young Boys. After taking charge at the club, he took his Bern side to a second-placed league finish. A full-time coaching role was never on his mind, but his results were a bit too good for him not to. Football chose him. At first, he even forced his football employer to adjust the training-scheme so it would fit with his hours at Caritas, even when coaching in the highest league in Switzerland, but when Young Boys was aiming for Champions League he realized that he didn't have the energy working double shifts. He said goodbye and promised to be back again in a few years later to the people at Caritas.

After two more seasons with Young Boys, he was sacked after a 1–1 draw against Luzern on 7 May 2011, and he became new manager of Turkish side Samsunspor. He resigned from that position in January 2012. On 15 May 2012 he was named the new temporary manager of Sion until the end of the 2011–12 season.

With SS Lazio

There was talk of Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Di Matteo and Vincenzo Montella to replace Edy Reja at the end of 2011-12 season. Instead, on 2 June 2012 Petković became officially the new manager of Lazio. His arrival has been debated by many. "I chose him because he is a good coach, and he has high moral values," Lazio President Claudio Lotito reiterated on various occasions in the past, relating Lazio tactician with his previous involvement as a volunteer at Caritas. However, he has been transformed from an unknown person in Italian football, to a pleasant surprise over the months.

The results today tell its own story: Lazio qualified for the knockout round of the Europa League with an unbeaten record, qualified for the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia, and above all, is second in Serie A with 36 points in the first 18 games (although Napoli would be on the same level, had they not been deducted 2 points for their involvement in the football betting scandal).

Petković has lost only four times in 27 official matches with Lazio. Currently, Lazio have not been beaten in 11 consecutive games (3 in Europa League, 1 in Coppa Italia, and 7 in Serie A). Much of the credit goes to Lazio manager Vladimir Petković.

Author: Ali Alkatiri
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