Branislav Ivanovic is an indispensable member of Serbia’s squad for various reasons. A competent performer, Ivanovic can play anywhere across the backline, having been part of their set-up since 2005, and also has considerable experience of playing in the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea.
Born in Sremska Mitrovica in the former Yugoslavia, Ivanovic cut his teeth with Remont and Srem, before making the move to Beograd in 2003. It was there that the defender, characterised by his steel in the tackle, recovery play and composure on the ball, began to make a name for himself and three years later, he became the property of Lokomotiv Moscow.
Ivanovic only won one trophy during his two years in the Russian capital – a national cup in 2007 – but, on an individual basis, his reputation soared – enough for Chelsea to part with €13m for his services in January 2008.
Ivanovic’s first full season at Stamford Bridge proved hit and miss, and he was linked with a move away from London. However, the No2 established himself as a first-team regular in the 2009/10 campaign, winning over the Blues fans and new manager Carlo Ancelotti with some steady displays.
Ivanovic made his senior international debut in 2005, but captained Serbia at the 2006 and 2007 UEFA European U-21 Championships, captaining them to the final, which they lost to the Netherlands, in the latter edition.
He was an automatic choice at centre-back for Radomir Antic during South Africa 2010 qualifying, although he usually operates at full-back for Chelsea.