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Pandev’s curtain call: the extraordinary road of a small country superstar


For Chinese children, Pandev’s “nickname” is nicknamed by him, and at the same time it is taken from his simple appearance. Today’s Pandev’s name is fading and posted, and his image is no different from the uncle on the streets of Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, but Pandev is not always like this. When he made his debut in the national team, Panf was under 18 years old. He was a young man with thick hair and sharp eyes. He was a standard, sharp-aged young Balkan spiritual guy.

It was early June 2001, exactly 20 years ago-to this day, North Macedonia’s life with Pandev is longer than without Pandev; and in the final round of the European Cup group match against the Netherlands, he completed his first round. After 122 games and the last national team game, Pandev looked back on the past and suddenly found that this red shirt had accompanied him through the journey of half of his life so far.

Bumpy road to fame

In the 68th minute against the Oranges, Pandev was replaced in the standing applause of the Amsterdam Arena. The 0 to 3 score on the field could not make him smile on the bench, but this is the best in the history of North Macedonian football. A great legend, after a great enough journey to the European Cup, the farewell to an equally legendary stadium is a perfect ending. North Macedonia teammates lined up for him, and there is a more serious old teammate Sneijder on the sidelines: In 2010, the M Moser blue and black triple crown, the Dutch is the absolute protagonist, and Pandev is a reliable wingman. Pandev has never been as brilliant at his peak as Sneijder, who has almost caught the golden ball, but his career has come even longer.

A year and a half of the blue and black career, so that Pandev’s personal honor room has more trophy decoration. For him, this was a recognition that was nearly ten years late. In 2001, the Nerazzurri brought the young Pandev from Macedonia to the Italian stadium for a price of 250,000 euros. He shined in the Viareggio Cup and won the league with the reserve team, but he still couldn’t escape the fate of being loaned out: Spezia in Serie C first, then Ancona in Serie A. At that time, his comrades-in-arms on the front line were the “post-60s” Hubner and Ganz. Today, his frontcourt partners in the national team and the club are Elmas and Scamaka, born in 1999-he connected two eras, like the frontcourt attack of the triple crown Inter Milan.

It wasn’t until Lazio came to Lazio in 2004 that Pandev’s name really began to shine in the world of football. At that time Lotito just came to the team and rescued the Capital Club from the brink of bankruptcy, but the chicken feathers left by the Clanotti era have not been completely cleaned up. In that bleak Lazio, Pandev quickly became the protagonist, and took the team back to the Champions League step by step to taste the cup again. In the Blue Eagles, his best partner is the bald striker Rocky. The most shining moment was the 2007-08 UEFA Champions League. He scored twice against Real Madrid and helped the team draw 2-2 in La Liga. champion.

This beautiful marriage could have a different ending. Due to contract renewal issues, the best foreign striker in the history of Lazio was completely refrigerated by the club in 2009. The Blue Eagles defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in Beijing to win the Italian Super Cup, but Pandev did not even get the chance to be called up. After a nightmare for half a year, the final judgment from the professional league arbitration committee allowed the North Macedonian to finally win freedom at the end of 2009. Soon, he waited for Mourinho’s call.

Ups and downs

Needless to say the next year and a half. In the first half of the year, Pandev has been winning, winning enough to make him completely forget the memory of being refrigerated at the Blue Eagle. In the next 2010-11 season, Pandev was still working hard and could not stand the sudden collapse of the Nerazzurri dynasty. The lore he scored in Munich has so far excited Inter Milan fans and made Bayern fans bitter. The best moment of the Nerazzurri in that gray season.

The disintegration speed of the Inter Milan team exceeded everyone’s imagination. The next stop is Naples. From Lavezi’s substitute to the Argentine’s substitute, Pandev finally became a foil after the rise of Insigne, the arrival of Callejon, and the establishment of Benitez’s 4231 play style. Then there is Galatasaray, the North Macedonians are closer to their hometown, but never find the feeling of home in Istanbul, and a main position. In 2015, 32-year-old Pandev came to Genoa, but the offensive madman Gasperini failed to regain the feeling of scoring: In the first season of “Gryphon”, he missed a goal and his career was almost advanced. Coming to an end.

It was also during this period of ups and downs that Pandev was frustrated and withdrew from the national team. This seems to be the inevitable fate of the legend of a small country, trying to fight for the country, becoming a benchmark, legend, and shooter king, but far more loses than wins. In March 2016, the current coach Angrovsky, who had just taken office for less than half a year, successfully invited the “Panda” back to the national team, laying the foundation for this story.

And Pandev’s career, also suddenly ushered in the second spring. In the 2019-20 season, the 36-year-old Pandev scored 9 goals in Serie A, which is his best record since 2008. This season, the one-year-old “Panda” continued to score 7 goals, including two scored twice! In Genoa in Preziosi, people coming and going are the norm, legends and flags almost never existed, Pandev has become a beautiful exception-this is already his sixth season in Hong Kong!

Small country football dream

Pandev’s most important goal in his career was not until he was 37 years old. That was Tbilisi in November 2020. North Macedonia, which ranked first in the UEFA D4 group, ushered in the opportunity to enter the European Cup through a “wild card”. Pandev made a fatal blow and made the team angry with Georgia. For the first time in history, he reached the finals of the competition. For European powers, Greece is already on the frontier of the core European powers, while North Macedonia is still sitting next to Greece and even has to change its country name. The strength is destined for North Macedonia to be unable to make further breakthroughs in the finals, but they at least put their country on the European football map. For the North Macedonians, Pandev, who led the team to the finals, has been upgraded from a stadium legend to a national hero.

After that, Pandev also scored in the World Cup preliminaries against Germany, making Serie A and Italian fans ecstatic. In the first match of the European Cup group match against Austria, he once scored an equalizer in the first half. This was also the first goal of the North Macedonia tournament. It was completed by the greatest star in team history. It seemed a natural choice.

In 2010, Pandev, who was still playing at Inter Milan, established his own team “Pandev Academy” to help his country’s youth training. This team went all the way from the fourth tier to the top, and won the domestic cup in 2019 and got the opportunity to appear in the Europa League. The current captain of the team is Sasko Pandev, the younger brother of the “Pandas”, and the midfielder Radsky, who plays for this team, has been selected for the European Cup squad in North Macedonia and became Pandev. Teammate of the national team. One person, one country, how can there be more appropriate annotations?

The emotional farewell of World War I in the Netherlands is the end of Pandev’s national team career. Should you just hang up your boots? The North Macedonians did not say anything, but the “Gryphon” captain Krishto has made it clear that he hopes to continue to be teammates with Pandev. Earlier this year, Pandev scored twice in the game against Naples. The team coach Valardini also joked after the game: “Pandev is going to retire? Then I will slap him. He is afraid of me.” At the age of 38, you can still get the unanimous retention of the team’s generals, which is undoubtedly a favor in the football world.

Pandev’s story is different from Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo. He has never become a real world-class superstar. Without the domineering and unrelenting determination of the Swedes, he also failed to maintain a perfect body through amazing self-discipline like the Portuguese star. . Pandev has been a little blessed, and once did not want to persist in the national team. He has his own vulnerability and has a football story of ordinary people. There are many regrets, exiles and lost. But it is precisely because of this that his goal in Tbilisi was almost miraculous, and the farewell to the Amsterdam Arena last night also moved a bit of truth.

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