Serbian national Milan Jovanovic was born in 1981 in the small town of Bajina Bašta, which is located in the western mountains of the country. He moved around a few times to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer. His big breakthrough came as an 18-year old in the colours of FK Vojvodina in the city of Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city after the capital, Belgrade.
Jovanovic spent four seasons with Vojvodina but appeared in less than fifty League matches during that time. He then spent a season and a bit with FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine, followed by a slightly longer spell with Lokomotiv Moscow. In 2006 he moved to Belgian club Standard Liège and quickly became a crowd favourite there. His debut season in Belgium was very successful, scoring 24 league and cup goals in 39 matches and he was almost as prolific a goalscorer in the next two seasons, adding another 32 goals from 76 matches. During his third season he came on as a substitute against Liverpool at Anfield late in normal time but Standard were defeated 1-0 after extra-time in the Champions League Third Qualifying Round at Anfield.
In June 2007 Jovanovic played for his country, against Finland in Helsinki, for the first time at senior level and scored the goal that effectively won the match. He was Serbia’s top scorer in the World Cup Qualifying matches and that led to his inclusion in the 23-man squad that would travel to South Africa for the 2010 Finals. Once there, he quickly made his mark with the goal that defeated Germany in Port Elizabeth. However, Serbia lost to both Ghana and Australia and failed to reach the knock-out stage of the tournament. Jovanovic started all three group games.
Jovanovic had made an agreement to join Liverpool on a free transfer before Rafael Benítez left the club. During the World Cup there was speculation that he would change his mind but this proved to be unfounded and the player signed a three-year deal on the 8th of July, 2010. Upon signing, he declared "It is an honour for me to sign for one of the biggest clubs in football. I cannot wait to start working with the manager and I'm looking forward to joining up with my new teammates on our Swiss training camp."
Jovanovic was voted Belgian Footballer Of The Year at the end of the 2007-2008 season and received the Golden Shoe for his League performances in 2009. He won the Belgian League title twice with Standard. The club’s supporters were very upset to see him leave, but he felt Liverpool was a big enough challenge to take his career to the next level.
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