The 1997/98 First League of FR Yugoslavia was won by an obscure side from Belgrade by the name of FK Obilić.

Founded in 1924 by a group of young Serbs they were named after the medieval Serbian hero Miloš Obilić and then taken over by a man called Željko Ražnatovic in June 1996.

Little did fans know that under Arkan they would enjoy a short but incredible episode of success.

The 1997–98 First League of FR Yugoslavia was the sixth season of the FR Yugoslavia’s top-level football league since its establishment following the dissolution of the political state of Yugoslavia.

From 1993 to 1998, the league abandoned the traditional single-league structure and the division was split into two groups; Group A (known as IA) for the top-seeded teams and Group B (IB) for the other teams.

Obilić as a name had been banned during the early Yugoslav communist era. Milos Obilić was a legendary 14th-century knight much celebrated in Serbian literature.

As a result of the ban the club for a while became FK Čuburac after Čubura, the urban neighbourhood just west of where the Obilić ground is located.

By 1952 FK Šumadija merged into FK Čuburac.

Combined, these two restored the previous club name of FK Obilić after the previously hardline government back-tracked and allowed them permission to use the name in sport.

The key to the rise of Arkan’s control at Obilić was the Dayton Agreement signed at the end of 1995.

The agreement’s main purpose was to promote peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to endorse the regional balance in and around the former Yugoslavia. It promoted the rights of people to assert a regional perspective.

In June 1996, the career criminal and paramilitary leader Željko Ražnatović, known by his nom de guerre Arkan, took over Obilić and swiftly brought success.

A former nightclub owner he had grown up with three older sisters in a strict, militaristic patriarchal household under a nationalistic father.

Serbia and Montenegro in 1997 was a place that had been traumatized by years of economic turmoil and sanction.

The Yugoslav national team had been banned from the 1992 UEFA European Championships. The core from that squad went to play for the Croatian national team which qualified for the 1996 European Championships.

The pan-Yugoslav Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was finished as was the concept of a Yugoslavian national football team.

By 1992 this politically was a rump state consisting only of the former Socialist Republics of Montenegro and Serbia.

Politically the new state was dominated by Slobodan Milošević and his political allies.

Disintegration and war led to a sanctions regime, causing the economy of Serbia and Montenegro to collapse. It was a vacuum into which shadowy figures like Arkan stepped.

FK Obilić started a rise to the top of Yugoslav football, a system which cross-town powerhouses Red Star and Partizan had always monopolized.

In the 1996–97 season, the club finished the First National league Group B in 1st place, and advanced for the first time to the First National league Group A.

In the 1997–98 season Obilić won the league and become the Champions of Yugoslavia for the first time.

The win came thanks to a remarkable winning run that eventually extended to 47 league games.

In the same season, Obilić also made it to the 1997–98 Yugoslav Cup final, but lost over two legs to Partizan Belgrade.

Opposition players on opposing teams were said to have been threatened if they scored against Obilić.

The enforcement of threats came from contacts of Arkan in the local militia; a gangland culture seeped its way into the corridors of football power both at Federation and club level. Referees were said to have been escorted to matches and in some case hand picked for fixtures by those in the circle of the local warlords and powerbrokers.

By the summer of 1998, UEFA considered prohibiting Obilić from European participation under pressure from the UN and Arkan’s known links to alleged breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

The criminal connections of the Obilić′s president were known to UEFA but no warrant for his arrest had been made. Against the backdrop of this, Arkan stepped down as president in favor of his glamorous wife Svetalana Ceca Ražnatović, in July 1998.

Ražnatović came to serve as a popular icon for both Serbs and their enemies. For some Serbs he was a patriot and folk hero immortalized in song and dance, while serving as an object of hatred and fear to Croats and Bosniaks.

The Obilić Stadium or Stadion FK Obilić is a football stadium now located in Vračar municipality of Belgrade.

Its current shape and status holds intact thanks really to Arkan’s period of control.

Unlicensed construction had improved the stadium’s infrastructure and new stands were erected on the north and south side of the pitch under his term of Presidency. The north stand was equipped with a unique, panoramic glass lounge that today sits rather run down and ready, if truth be told, for demolition.

Plans had been developed to completely rebuild the entire stadium, to give it a capacity of 16,200 spectators and turn it into one of the most modern football venues in Serbia. However, the team and the club has dropped inexorably following the assassination of Arkan on 15th January 2000.

Presidential seats still stand looking out over the field of play and covered in thick dust.

The scene is one of disrepair but history is everywhere.

Outside imagery and symbolism dedicated to both the modern Serbian warlord and the medieval Obilić still exists and that Championship win of 1998 is still commemorated in a huge banner that sits over the outer exterior of the stand.