Stojkovic returns to Nagoya
Serbian football great Dragan Stojkovic returned to Japan Monday on a mission to bring his old club, J-League strugglers Nagoya Grampus, back to winning ways as a manager.
"I have been away from Japan for some time and it feels like coming home," he told reporters as he arrived at an airport near the central city of Nagoya. "Nagoya has been on my mind in the six years I was away."
The 42-year-old played for Nagoya for eight seasons until 2001, scoring 57 goals in 184 games.
"I have ideas about how to rebuild Grampus. I definitely want to guide the team to the championship," said Stojkovic, who quit as chief executive of Red Star Belgrade in October.
Nagoya finished 11th in the 18-club J-League first division with 13 wins, six draws and 15 losses in the last season which ended in November. Stojkovic will take over from Dutchman Sef Vergoossen, who returned to the Netherlands to manage PSV Eindhoven after the end of the season.
The former attacking midfielder, who also played for Marseille and Red Star Belgrade, helped Yugoslavia reach the 1990 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals. Stojkovic joined Nagoya in 1994 under the reign of Arsene Wenger, who went on to manage Arsenal two years later and remains with the Gunners.
Fondly called 'Pixy' by fans and media, Stojkovic was the 1995 J-League Player of the year and was chosen three times for the best eleven in 1995, 1996 and 1999.
The Toyota-sponsored Nagoya outfit have never won the J-League title but lifted the prestigious Emperor's Cup in 1995 and 1999. They also finished the J-League runners-up in 1996.