Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
An observant Muslim, Adem Ljajic wished everyone Eid Mubarak through a message on a T-shirt after scoring against Lazio.
An observant Muslim, Adem Ljajic wished everyone Eid Mubarak through a message on a T-shirt after scoring against Lazio.

Ljajic now packs a punch at Fiorentina

The Serbian is at last showing his potential and rewarding the faith shown by the club with goals.

Florence appreciates imagination. The global reputation of the place centres on art and architecture. No Italian city offers so concentrated a celebration of human invention, fantasy and daring.

The city's principal football club, Fiorentina, has always seemed in thrall to the maverick creative genius, too.

This is the club where Roberto Baggio came to prominence and where men of independent spirit, from Socrates to Steffen Effenberg to Adrian Mutu, have made themselves at home.

Adem Ljajic, the 21-year-old playmaker, has not achieved what any of those did, at least not yet, and it would be fair to report that his notoriety probably outweighs whatever fame his skills have brought to him.

Above all, Ljajic is best known beyond Serie A and his native Serbia for the incident towards the end of last season which led to Delio Rossi's dismissal as the Fiorentina head coach.

A recap: Fiorentina, fending off possible relegation, played Novara. Rossi had substituted Ljajic after just over half an hour.

The player then sarcastically applauded the decision as he entered the dugout, at which point Rossi darted towards Ljajic with the apparent intention of punching him.

The men were pulled apart by Rossi's assistants. Television cameras caught the whole commotion. Rossi lost his job that evening.

Indeed, the Serbia international has a history of displeasing his coaches.

Sinisa Mihaijlovic, a former Fiorentina coach, once accused him of spending too much time "on his PlayStation" and having a bad diet.

Mihaijlovic, now in charge of Serbia, has since excluded Ljajic from the national team because he did not sing the national anthem, even though Ljajic explained that, as an observant Muslim, he was unwilling to join in a song with Christian connotations.

Of his potential, there has been little doubt since his teens. He once had a trial at Manchester United, and the club were keen on his transfer, as a 17 year old, from Partizan Belgrade.

Work permit problems then arose and the word from the club was that sufficient doubts about the player had arisen that United eased up in their efforts to solve the administrative issues.

Fiorentina took advantage, recruiting him in 2010.

Under Vicenzo Montella's enterprising watch, he is now thriving. Ljajic scored a fine goal in the 2-0 win over Lazio, a long-range missile that spoke of self-assurance.

He talks of his new-found maturity. Montella would appreciate a little more consistency in his form, but is certainly more inclined to throw plaudits Ljajic's way than punches.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Manager Matt Williams benching star Bryce Harper, above, may have sent the wrong message to the rest of the Washington Nationals. Mike Ehrmann / AFP

Benching Harper sends Williams’s right message the wrong way

Matt Williams, the Washington Nationals manager, made the biggest move of his 18-game tenure on Saturday, benching rising star Bryce Harper for his “lack of hustle”.

 Players such as George Springer are a sign that things are starting to swing in the Houston Astros' favour. But more help is needed. Scott Halleran / AFP

Houston Astros are still earth-bound but help is on the way

As harbingers of a new era go, the Houston Astros could have done worse than misspelling their new phenom’s name on his major-league debut.

 Luis Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 Premier League goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1987. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Sterling and Suarez inpire Liverpool to win over Norwich City

The win takes the Premier League table-toppers to 80 points from 35 games.

 Arsenal's Lukas Podolski celebrates his second goal during the Premier League match against Hull City at The KC Stadium in Hull, England, on April 20, 2014. Lynne Cameron / AP Photo

Arsenal maintain push for top-four finish with victory at Hull

Hull could end up in Europe regardless of the FA Cup final result if Arsenal finish in the Uefa Champions League places

 Ashish Nehra of Chennai Super Kings bowls to Kings XI Punjab at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Hard-hitting Chennai not deterred by opening loss in IPL

But some questions remain about the team's attack ahead of Monday's match against Delhi Daredevils in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Stanislas Wawrinka turned away fellow Swiss Roger Federer with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 20, 2014. Julian Finney / Getty Images

Wawrinka backhands Federer aside at Monte Carlo Masters

Stanislas Wawrinka won the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time after rallying to beat Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in a rare all-Swiss final.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National