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Bora Milutinovic


Bora Milutinovic

Bora Milutinović
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Velibor "Bora" Milutinović (Serbian Cyrillic: Велибор Милутиновић – Бора; born 7 September 1944) is a Mexican-Serbian football coach and former player. He and Carlos Alberto Parreira are the only two persons to have coached five different teams at the World Cup: Mexico (1986), Costa Rica (1990), the United States (1994), Nigeria (1998), and China (2002). He is also the first coach to take four different teams beyond the first round -- Mexico (1986), Costa Rica (1990), the United States (1994), and Nigeria (1998) -- earning the nickname of Miracle Worker,[1] first given to him by Alan Rothenberg, then president of the United States Soccer Federation.[2] In total Milutinović has coached eight different national football teams.

Coaching - World Cup national teams

Mexico (1983-86)

Milutinovic led Mexico to the quarterfinals at the 1986 World Cup, its highest finish. Mexico fell in the quarterfinals to West Germany on penalty kicks.

Costa Rica (1990)

Milutinovic took over Costa Rica just before the 1990 World Cup and got Costa Rica into the second round. In 1990, Milutinovic was hired as coach of Costa Rica just 90 days before the World Cup. He cut the captain and other starters. Costa Rica managed to beat Scotland and Sweden and lost to Brazil, 1-0, before getting swamped by Czechoslovakia, 4-1, in the second round.[3]

United States (1991-95)

Hank Steinbrecher, general secretary of the U.S. Soccer Federation, conducted the job interviews for the U.S. national team head coach position. American coaches had not proved their worth on the international stage, as the United States had lost all three games in the 1990 World Cup finals under Bob Gansler. When the USSF's search began in 1991, the emphasis was not so much on experience, but on finding a coach who could squeeze the last drop of potential out of a lightly regarded team, and Milutinovic's name came up again and again.[4] He had coached first Mexico, then Costa Rica to surprising World Cup success.

Milutinovic left no doubts about who ran the team. Milutinovic cut two U.S. players, Peter Vermes and Desmond Armstrong, board members of the national federation, from his World Cup team. Milutinovic cut from the team Bruce Murray, the all-time leading U.S. goal scorer. When Alexi Lalas first showed up at training camp, Milutinovic told him to get a haircut or get off the team.[5]

Milutinovic coached the United States national team at the 1994 World Cup, held in the U.S. In the 1994 WC, the U.S. team notched its first win in the World Cup since 1950, and progressed to the knockout round of the tournament for the first time since the 1930's.

The USSF fired Bora Milutinovic on April 14, 1995, saying it wanted someone who could be both coach and administrator. Milutinovic reportedly wanted no part of the administrative duties.[6]

Nigeria (1997-98)

Milutinovic coached the Nigerian team at the 1998 World Cup in France. Nigeria won its group, notching a notable 3-2 upset win over Spain, and reached the knockout rounds. This was the fourth team that Milutinovic had taken to the knockout rounds of the World Cup, a coaching record.[7]

China (2000-02)

Under Milutinović, China qualified to the World Cup finals for the first time ever. Milutinovic continues to be a supporter of the Chinese national team, and keeps a blog on the Chinese website

Coaching - other national teams

Honduras (2003-04)

In the summer of 2003, Milutinović was in serious negotiations to finally take over the national team at his native Serbia. Despite heavy, month-long persuasion from Serbian football officials, Milutinović turned down the offer and soon signed on to the Honduras national team. He led the team to the first round of CONCACAF qualifiers before resigning on 30 June 2004. He cited "the prevailing bad atmosphere, created by comments made by the country's managers, officials and press" as the reason for his leaving during World Cup qualifying.

Jamaica (2006-07)

On 16 November 2006, Milutinovic was announced as head coach of Jamaica. On 9 November 2007, following a string of six consecutive friendly defeats, he was fired by the Jamaican FA.

Iraq (2009)

Milutinović led the Iraq national football team in group play in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup for two draws and one loss, failing to reach the knockout stage.

Coach Period Matches Wins Draws Losses
Bora Milutinović 8 April 2009 – June 2009 4 0 3 1
  • Qatar vs. Iraq not considered as a FIFA International match since Iraq made 13 Substitutions, Iraq lost the match 0–1.

Coaching - club teams

Milutinović's coaching career at club level has seen more mixed success. His longest coaching spell for a single club was his tenure with UNAM Pumas of Mexico from 1977-83. Several of his Pumas players ended up playing for Mexico at the 1986 World Cup.

Since then, he has coached briefly for several club teams. He coached Udinese Calcio of Italian Serie B for nine matches in 1987. He coached the MetroStars of Major League Soccer to the worst record in league history in 1999. He also had a brief stint in Qatar league with Al-Sadd in 2004-05.


Bora Milutinović comes from a legendary football family; he and his two brothers Miloš and Milorad played together for Partizan Belgrade.

His father was killed in World War II, his mother by tuberculosis soon after the war. He said he doesn't remember either of his parents. He was raised by an aunt, and raised playing soccer.[8]

Milutinović is married to a Mexican and currently resides in Qatar. He is fluent in English, Spanish and French as well as his native Serbian.


External links

  • Bora Milutinović's match-by-match record with various countries
  • Bora Milutinović stats at Medio (Spanish)
Preceded by
John Kowalski
United States men's national soccer team head coach
Succeeded by
Steve Sampson
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