On June 20, 2015, Serbia won the U20 World Cup for the first time. Five years on, we sat down with Ivan Saponjic, one of the key players in his national team’s success.
“Five years have passed since the greatest success in the history of Serbian football. It means a lot to me and I will remember it for the rest of my life! We are our country’s golden generation,” our striker said.
The 22-year-old spoke about his performance in the tournament.
“I was quite satisfied with my game and performance after the tournament, considering that I was 17 years old and I was the youngest player in my team. It was a pretty good experience for me, and I learned a lot from coach Veljko Paunovic and his assistants.”
Our player netted two key goals in the tournament. The first was scored in the last 16 against Hungary in the last minute, whereas the second qualified Serbia for the final.
“It was quite an important goal to reach the final, but the last-minute goal against Hungary for 1-1 that left us in the game was also very important and I will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Serbia was forced to play extra-time in every game from the last 16 until the final. They even qualified on penalties for the semi-final.
“We were a great team and I think it led us to this kind of success. We played overtime many times and we always came out as winners. We had a lot of strong characters and the whole team was like one.”
Brazil awaited in the final.
“We played Brazil in the final and it was the most beautiful match and the most beautiful victory. It’s a very nice feeling when you achieve such a big success with your country. The whole country was helped us.”
Finally, Saponjic spoke about the reception once the team returned to Serbia.
“The reception in Serbia was amazing. 80,000 people greeted us. It’s one of the most beautiful moments in my career. Something indescribable, really.”