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Notts Alumni - Raddy Avramovic

Joe Jones

Every Notts fan, young and old, will know about, or at least have heard of, Jimmy Sirrel. The Glaswegian is undisputably the greatest manager in the history of Notts County. Once asked who was the best player in his legendary team of the early 1980s, he nominated his goalkeeper, giving the following reason: "In my opinion, the goalkeeper is the number one man in your team. You start with a point, and if he doesn't lose a goal, you get that. So if you score one, you've won."

The goalkeeper he had in mind was a player he cared about deeply, spending a great deal of money on to bring him to England, as well as investing a lot of time and effort into making him feel welcome and appreciated, in turn becoming one of the top players in that great team. That player was Radojko "Raddy" Avramovic.

Born in Sjenica, a small town in southwestern Serbia (then Yugoslavia), on the 29th November 1949, he began his career at FK Borac Čačak in 1969, before moving to NK Rijeka in 1974, where he established himself, playing 162 games in five years for the club.

Meanwhile, in England, a decades-old rule about restricting the number of foreigners playing in the English league was about to come to an end. Previously, the FA had a rule in place whereby foreigners couldn't play professionally in England, with a couple of notable exceptions such as Bert Trautmann, who served time as a prisoner of war in England before playing for Manchester City.

In 1978, the FA had to remove this rule, when the European Community deemed it contrary to the principles of free movement enshrined in the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

Able to sign foreign players for the first time in 47 years, English clubs began scouting overseas, which saw the likes of Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa come to England.

In Nottingham, Jimmy Sirrel, Notts' manager at the time, toured Europe for two weeks, and in that time spotted Avramovic playing for Rijeka. He reported back to then chairman Jack Dunnet saying he'd found "a goalie who would keep them in the Second Division", and persuaded Notts to part with £200,000 for the Yugoslav, a then record club fee.

Sirrel would put a lot of faith and care into the keeper when he came over to England, aware of the potential issues such as homesickness and acclimatising that may have arisen. Raddy and his family stayed at Jimmy’s house at first until they bought a home of their own. At the beginning of the goalie’s career at Notts there was a social function at which Raddy bought all his new teammates a drink as a friendly gesture. A local Evening Post reporter who covered Notts saw this and wrote a piece about Raddy being a ‘boozer’ and a ‘big-time-Charlie’. The next time that reporter went to Meadow Lane, Jimmy physically got hold of him and had him thrown off the premises and banned from the ground.

Avramovic made his competitive debut for Notts on Saturday 4th August 1979 in the Anglo-Scottish Cup qualifier against local rivals Mansfield, while his first league game was the 4-1 win against Cardiff City on the 18th August.

In his first season, Notts' form was erratic and the club finished in 17th, but the following season was a completely different story, as the club exceeded all expectations to finish second in the league, behind a very strong West Ham side, to gain promotion to the First Division, the top echelon of English football. Avramovic was a key player, taking part in 38 out of 42 league fixtures and keeping sixteen clean sheets.

Rather than finding himself out of his depth in the top flight, Avramovic excelled during the 81/82 season, playing all 42 league games as the club finished clear of relegation in the First Division and registered some impressive results, such as a 2-1 win against Arsenal in October and a 1-0 defeat of reigning champions Aston Villa. Such was his quality that Liverpool legend Ian Rush described how good he was in his autobiography when talking about their game against Notts in January '82.

After maintaining his high standards of goalkeeping once again during the following season, helping Notts survive in the top flight for another year, Raddy left for Canada vith a view to play for Inter Montreal, but then-manager of Coventry Bobby Gould persuaded him to sign up for the Sky Blues, making his debut in a 2-1 home win over Leicester.

He played a total of 24 games - 18 league games and a further six in cup competitions - in his brief spell for the West Midlands club, which saw him lose his first-team place after mistakes against Watford and Stoke, before he returned to Yugoslavia to finish his playing career with OFK Belgrade and to study law.

Avramovic spent some time in Oman before becoming manager of Kuwait, leading The Blue to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and winning the West Asian Games in 2002.

He then became manager of Singapore, where he enjoyed his most successful spell at the helm, winning the ASEAN Football Championship three times - becoming the most successful coach in the history of the competition - and overseeing the nation's progress to the group stages of the AFC Zone World Cup 2014 qualifiers, a first for the team.

After departing from that role, Avramovic continued his adventure in international management by taking the helm of Myanmar, where he stayed until October 2015.

Whatever his future may hold now, Notts County has always been close to his heart, and likewise, the Magpies fans and hierarchy will always remember him for being a cult hero during one of the club's brightest times led by the club's greatest manager.

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I don't know why I thought he didn't achieve much in management, though I recall him having spells with various teams. It's also a shame he didn't find a chance to manage over here but he's done pretty well for those he has managed. His pictures look inspirational and I love the one where he's being carried by hi squad. Love the guy! One of the older players I fondly recall being told about and my grandfather used to make comments about him being a human elastic band with how he managed to make some very good reflect saves.

Great write up!

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As above , what a fantastic read , that really brought back memories , thanks for the trip down memory lane , and lots of facts about his career after Notts , he was a brilliant goalkeeper Remember many outstanding displays by Raddy , a double reflex save at the lane in front of the cop springs to mind truely sensational save . Brilliant article well written .

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