Nick Dasovic

October 2, 2013

Name: Nick Robert Dasovic

DOB: 05/12/68

POB: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Position: Centre Midfield

Clubs: Dinamo Zagreb, North York Rockets, Croatia Zagreb, Montreal Impact, Vancouver 86ers, Stade Briochin, Vancouver 86ers, Trelleborgs FF, St. Johnstone, Vancouver Whitecaps 81 (2)

International caps: 62



The Canadian may have been the subject of many a witticism due to his
appearance and country of birth, neither of which had much in common
with professional football, but that did not detract from his abilities as a footballer and renowned McDiarmid Park hero at a time of great success for the Perth club.

The one time band member of the Virgin Whores
) shook
off any parochial thoughts at an early age and decided to go backpacking
around Europe. The journey empowered the young man and he felt
comfortable enough to leave Canada and go to the country of his
father’s descent, Croatia, and sign for Dinamo Zagreb in 1989. He
stayed contracted there for four years, returning home for a season 
in between to play for North York Rockets in the Canadian League.
Having failed to break into the first-team he returned home for a
permanent move in 1993 and signed for Montreal Impact of the American
Professional Soccer League.

For three years Dasovic bounced between North America and Europe
as he sought a location which shared his passion for the sport and a
place where he could thrive at a high level. Moves to Stade Briochin,
in the French third tier, and Trellebrogs, in the Swedish top flight,
failed to prove fruitful and he became a free agent November 1996.
Thankfully, an international teammate was more than happy to help as
Dunfermline’s left-back Colin Miller recommended the midfielder to St
Johnstone boss Paul Sturrock. The Saints were hopeful of winning
promotion to the top flight but could use a little more experience in
the centre of midfield with under-21 international Philip Scott still
learning his trade.

St Johnstone were lucky that they were able to register their
impressive trialist. Old home office rules permitted only 10 non-EC
players to be signed within the Scottish leagues. St Johnstone got
the 10th and last of those places, beating out Rangers who
were forced to delay their capture of Sebastian Rozental. Sturrock
immediately inserted his new signing into the starting line-up
alongside another foreign import, Austrian Atilla Sekerlioglu. The
pair immediately demonstrated a healthy understanding and gave St
Johnstone a mix of technique and solidity in the centre of the
park, two attributes common in both players.

Dasovic wasn’t a particularly thrilling footballer. Bums didn’t rise
off seats in anticipation when he picked up the ball and opposing
fans didn’t fear his name. What made him so revered in Perth was his
ability to continually keep the ball moving for his side and never
waste possession, while always showing a desire to run himself into
the ground if need be. That wasn’t to say he was limited and only
did the simple things. He just demonstrated excellent technique and
kept a cool head in pressure situations. The partnership between him
and Sekerlioglu, a similar sort of player, gave Sturrock a dependable
platform in which to give his creative players, such as Leigh
Jenkinson, greater freedom in which to express. At the end of the
campaign St Johnstone won the First Division title and earned
promotion to the Premier League.

Plausibly, the only thing that stopped Dasovic being an undeniable
St Johnstone legend was his inability to keep himself fit following
his maiden campaign. In March of the promotion winning season he
suffered an injury on international duty that required a hernia
operation, causing him to be out of the first-team picture until
November. When he returned he gifted Henrik Larsson a simple goal in
a defeat at Parkhead with a short back-pass. Despite the gaff he
still received praise after the match for the way in which he
shackled the Swede. One year later his man marking talents would be
highlighted once more when he gave Lubomir Moravcik a rude awakening
to the tough life of Scottish football.

Paul Kane had now emerged as his new partner in the centre but
nothing changed in terms of effectiveness. Sturrock preferred a five
man midfield and the central trio all completed each others
skill-set. Dasovic was the fetcher and carrier in front of the defence,
Kane was the tough tackler and visionary passer slightly in front of him, and Scott added a creative energy at the apex. St Johnstone would never
be in any relegation trouble that season and ultimately finished in
fifth place. The next campaign was to be one of the greatest in the
club’s history with Dasovic playing an integral role in the success.

It didn’t start out so well. Sturrock decided to leave Perth,
travelling the short distance up the M90 to become the next Dundee
United manager. Sandy Clark took over the reigns and the side quickly
bounced back from a drubbing at Ibrox to advance to the semi-final of
the League Cup where they would face Hearts. The Edinburgh side had
not made a strong start to the season but they were still favoured
going into this clash having won the Scottish Cup just five months
previous. All that pre-match hype melted away inside the opening 45
minutes as St Johnstone took the game to Hearts and quickly raced
into a 2-0 lead, with Dasovic opening the scoring after drilling a
low shot past the keeper from the edge of the penalty area. He then
sent Nathan Lowndes through to cross for George O’Boyle who added the
tie clinching third. It gave St Johnstone their first appearance in a
major final in 29 years and only the second in their history.

Dasovic was superb in the final. On the Celtic Park turf he never
put a foot wrong as he constantly denied Rangers attacks and helped
build the few opportunities the underdogs had. He even managed to get
himself on the scoresheet, equalising inside the first ten minutes
with a rifled drive on the half-volley that flew into the top corner
of the net. He was deservedly rewarded with the man of the match,
although that was scant consolation for a dejected Dasovic after
Rangers won the match 2-1. In spite of their disappointment, the team
continued their terrific form and did the previously unthinkable by
bettering every side in Scottish football outside the Old Firm to
finish third in the league table and qualify for a place in the UEFA

Monaco were the marquee opposition and Dasovic should have made a
surreal return as a player to the ground he had once visited on his
tourist travels, only for a virus to force him from the matchday
squad. He did, however, get a positive memory of his short stint in
European competition in the return leg. His shot from the edge of the
area took a deflection and flew past Fabien Barthez for a St
Johnstone equaliser. The hosts would go onto draw 3-3 with a side
also featuring John Arne Riise, Dado Prso and Marco Simone, bravely
exiting the competition 6-3 on aggregate.

It was to be the last happy moment of Dasovic’s season. A pelvic
problem robbed him of first team football for ten months and the
remainder of the 1999/00 campaign. When he returned it was clear that age was beginning to catch up with the Canadian, and his partner
Kane, in the centre of the park. The deterioration in performance
spread throughout the entire squad as St Johnstone continued their
descent down the table after that sparkling 1998/99 season. Clark,
who had initially impressed in the hot-seat, looked incapable of
building his own squad with the veterans, youth players and new
signings incapable of meshing.

The next campaign signalled the beginning of the end for Dasovic
and the club in Scotland’s top flight. St Johnstone were terrible to
start the new campaign and a poor run cost Sandy Clark his job in the
autumn. Billy Stark took over the side and initially placed his faith
in some of the older players before recognising the futility of the
job and dedicating his time to rebuilding through the young players. Dasovic rarely featured after Christmas of 2001 and was told
he’d be released in April of the same season.

A Fan’s Memory

Ask any St Johnstone fan about their favourite players over the past twenty years and its likely that Nick Dasovic will get a mention. Dasovic got off to a flyer in his first season in a Saints strip, when the club won promotion to the Premier League and after that, he never looked backed.

As well as being an extremely talented footballer, Dasovic was also a top bloke. He was always present at supporters functions and it never seemed a chore to him to discuss the club with the fans.

After Derek McInnes left, Dasovic was strongly linked with the vacant managers position at the club, but eventually missed out to Steve Lomas. Dasovic has built up a strong coaching pedigree in the past few years, which also included completing his coaching badges at Largs alongside Jose Mourinho and I am sure if the managers job ever becomes vacant at Saints in the future, then Nick Dasovics name will be in the frame again.

— Gregg Aitchinson, St Johnstone supporter

Where is he now?  As mentioned by Gregg, the midfielder went out and got his coaching badges after retiring and is now assistant manager of the San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer.

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