Former Tottenham defender Bunjevcevic dies aged 45

Tottenham's Goran Bunjevcevic (R) is challenged by Mark Delaney of Aston Villa (pic: David Davies/PA

Tottenham's Goran Bunjevcevic (R) is challenged by Mark Delaney of Aston Villa (pic: David Davies/PA Images). - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The centre back made 51 appearances for Spurs during a five-year spell in England

Goran Bunjevcevic, who made 51 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur during a five-year spell at White Hart Lane, has died at the age of 45.

Bunjevcevic’s former club Red Star Belgrade announced the news on their official website, saying he had suffered an aneurysm in May.

The statement read: “With sadness we report that Goran Bunjevcevic, former Crvena zvezda captain and director of football, has passed away on 28 June 2018. He was 45 years old.

“Goran fought bravely for over a month after suffering an aneurysm on 20 May this year, but has today tragically lost the battle.”

Bunjevcevic left Tottenham in 2006 and spent a short period with Den Haag in Holland before retiring and eventually taking up a new position as sporting director of the Serbian Football Association.

An obituary on the Spurs website read: “We were saddened to learn of the passing of our former defender Goran Bunjevcevic at the age of 45 on Thursday evening, following a recent illness.

Most Read

“A central defender or sweeper with an eye for a pass and always comfortable bringing the ball out of defence, Goran joined us from Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena zvezda) in 2001 and made 58 appearances in all competitions before departing for ADO Den Haag in 2006.

“Born in Karlovac, Croatia, on 17 February, 1973, Goran spent his formative years in Croatia but his football career really took off upon his move to the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

“He made his top flight breakthrough in 1993 with Rad Belgrade and a move to Red Star Belgrade followed in 1997. Success followed with two championships (2000, 2001) and two cups (1999, 2000) and he captained the team on his way to 169 appearances between 1997-2001.

“Goran also won the first of 16 caps (for the FR Yugoslavia national team) in 1998. Goran joined us in May, 2001 but having started four of our first five matches in the Premier League, suffered a fractured cheekbone against Chelsea in September. That ruled him out until December and he only started twice more that season.

“He scored two goals for us in his 58 appearances, both in the League Cup against Oldham and Bolton in 2004-05. He made his last first team appearance in February, 2005 and after captaining our reserves to the title (19 appearances) in 2005-06, he moved to Holland.

“Goran had a spell as Red Star’s sporting director in 2008, was general manager of FK Zemun in Serbia in 2013-14 and was most recently sporting director of the FA of Serbia. We extend our condolences to Goran’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Bunjevcevic was a popular figure in Serbian football, having captained Red Star Belgrade to a league title in 2000 and made 16 appearances for the Yugoslavia national team.

After Serbia’s opening World Cup win over Costa Rica two weeks ago, defender Aleksandar Kolarov dedicated his match-winning free-kick to Bunjevcevic.

Kolarov told reporters: “We dedicate this win to our director, and we want him to know that we are all supporting him.

“He’s had some health problems. We want to relay this message to him and his family that we are 100 per cent behind him.”