As Yugoslavia descended into civil war, the stars of the domestic league began to spread to some of Europe’s finest clubs. The list of destinations is especially impressive givn that these transfers happened when many leagues still limited clubs to three or four foreign players.
Where the stars of 92 ended up:
Siniša Mihajlović - Roma
Zvonimir Boban - AC Milan (C/L)
Robert Prosinečki - Real Madrid
Davor Šuker - Sevilla (C/L)
Predrag Mijatović - Valencia (C/L)
Robert Jarni - Bari
Vladimir Jugović - Sampdoria (C/L)
Alen Bokšić - Marseille (C/L)
Darko Pančev - Inter Milan
Dejan Savićević - AC Milan
Dragan Stojković - Marseille
No fewer than five of the players from the side of '92 would play key roles in winning the Champions League for their clubs through the remainder of the 90s, as former Yugoslavians continually cropped up on Ballon D’or shortlists.
Perhaps the best glimpse into what could have been comes from the success of the Croatian national team in the following years. At Euro '96 they reached the quarter finals before going one better and reaching the semi-final of the 1998 World Cup.
In an alternate reality the stars of Yugoslavia looked poised to have a run akin to that of Spain between 2008 and 2012.
Sadly, we'll always be left wondering, what if.
Words by Andy Gallagher