Football Murals – Partizan

Less than a 1km away from the Partizan Stadium is the House of Flowers – the landmark burial site of Josip Broz Tito, the former Yugoslavian President. Tito had been interred in the House of Flowers mausoleum in 1980 and the location forms part of a memorial complex in the grounds of the Museum of Yugoslav History.

If the Partizan Stadium sits in the shadow of the mausoleum then being in the footballing shadow of near neighbors Red Star in something that could never be levelled at Partizan Belgrade.

The two clubs are not even cross town rivals.

The Partizan Stadium sits 1km away from the Rajko Mitic Stadium of Red Star, two clubs who are huge rivals but only a short walk apart in terms of location.

When the two Belgrade clubs do have in common is the ability to remember those who have passed in image and word. Red Star, after all, are intertwined with the term Delije which effectively translates ‘heroes’ – whomever this may be – Arkan, Dejan Savicevic, Dragan Stojkovic, the list of heroes is endless.

Both the interiors and exteriors of the Rajko Mitic Stadium are strewn with dedications to ‘Delije’ – both fans and players living or passed. Such is the strength of the term ‘Delije’ it has been turned into a boutique brand. A retail store outside the Red Star stadium now sells as many branded products weekly as any other store in Belgrade.

At Partizan’s former JNA Stadium heroes both football fans and sporting heroes are remembered vividly in image.

The Partizan Belgrade side that reached the 1966 European Cup Final in Bruxelles was perhaps Yugoslavia’s greatest ever side at least until the 1991 European Cup side of Red Star came along. Only falling short by 1-2 to the great Real Madrid this was an all star line up of Kosovans, Slovenians and Serbs and captained by one of Partizan’s greatest ever players – Milutin Šoškić.

Outside the stadium a large image appears against the stadium walls dedicated to the team with its star player Velibor Vasović standing cross armed.

A floodlight pylon lingers just above gleaming its light on the field of play and its shadows across the image.

The Yugoslavian basketball team had been arguably good enough to challenge the American Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics, but civil war broke up the squad—and the promise it represented.

That said Partizan remember some basketball legends outside the stadium including one of its greatest ever – Boban Petrović.

Also outside the Partizan Stadium are murals dedicated to fan friendships.

CSKA Moscow fans maintain good relations with the fans of Partizan given both were originally army clubs.

In 2015 a two meter high bronze statue has been installed in a Belgrade park. This was where Gavrilo Princip and other members of the radical Young Bosnia movement gathered before they set out for Sarajevo and the assassination in 1914 of Franz Ferdinand.

If governments can erect monuments to the timeline of history then so can football fans.

Legends never die so to speak.

Belgrade is the largest city in Serbia and its capital, but the “white city” has taken many forms since the beginnings of its settlement between 50,000 and 20,000 years ago. Likewise, some of the murals outside the former JNA Stadium are worn and tired while others are new just like the city of Belgrade itself.

Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe with a history dating back almost 7,000 years, its has been the scene of clashes between numerous powers that have successively dominated the region – just like the football powers who have dominated the sporting scene for so long – Red Star and Partizan.