Dušan Tadić: King of the assist

Eredivisie, Serbian Players

Dušan Tadić seems like a quiet guy, but sometimes he behaves as outgoing as Cristiano Ronaldo, one of his many football role models. In May 2018, Tadić even stripped down to his underwear and distributed his Southampton kit to female supporters. He had promised to do so if his club would maintain itself at the highest level in England. It happend and Tadić kept his promise on the last day of that season.

Despite that great result, Tadić has had his fill of the Premier League. The competition is too rough and tough for him. “You just keep playing,” he said in a car interview with Andy van der Meyde at the beginning of 2019, “No break in the winter. No Christmas, no New Years. And you won’t be protected from all the kicks you get. After every game I sat with an ice pack here and an ice pack there. I was completely fed up with all that ice.”

THROUGH BALLS

Tadić opts for a transfer to Ajax and he probably has not will not regretted that choice for a moment. Less than a year after his strip show in the lower regions of the Premier League, Tadić plays the quarter and semi-finals of the Champions League with Ajax. In Madrid he may have played the match of his life. Throwing through balls at whoever storms past him: Noussair Mazraoui and Donny van de Beek, for example. When Tadić subriously passes the ball to Hakim Ziyech, it is already 0-1 in the seventh minute.

In the eighteenth minute Tadić passes Casemiro with a graceful pirouette. Instead of shooting himself, he then gives a through ball to David Neres. The brazilian scores and the goal sums up what makes Tadić such a fantastic footballer. Playing football on squares as a kid, he copied the art of the pirouette from Zidane. The choice for the assist, instead of a shot on target, is also characteristic of the Serb’s game. Throughout his career he has had an eye for better positioned fellow players and cleverly tpasses when he might have tried to score himself. Ronald Koeman, Southampton coach at the time, thought he should be more selfish and shoot himself more often, but Tadić prides himself on always keeping his head up and looking out for his teammates. Tadić takes care of the 3-0 in Bernabeu himself anyway. His goal is a shot from about fourteen meters, straigh in the intersection after an assist form Donny van de Beek.

A PERFECT SCORE

Tadić’s debut season with Ajax is the first and for the time being the only one in which he scores more than he gives assists, not counting penalties. Tadić is even end the season as top scorer in the Eredivisie. After the match against Real Madrid, Tadić scores a 10 on the list of marks of the French sports newspaper L’Equipe. “By the grace of his performance against Real Madrid on Tuesday night, graced by a goal and two assists, he has joined a club of elite players in modern football,” the sports newspaper writes. The list of eight other players whose matches were once also worth a ten, according to l’Equipe also include Neymar, Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi.

Tadić is known as a training beast just like Cristiano Ronaldo and like the Portuguese he is not afraid to take off his shirt and show his abs washboard like his shirt. Like the Portuguese, Tadić likes to hit the gym when his teammates fall tired on the bench after regular training. He has repeatedly said in interviews that he admires Ronaldo even more than fellow superstar Messi, because of the Portuguese’s leadership, work ethic and winning mentality.

Tadić’s work ethic and mentality is also highly acclaimed. Off the field he has a very friendly demeanor, inside the field his mood can suddenly change. It’s the nature of the beast. In his first three matches on the Dutch fields, he immediately received three yellow cards, wrote the Dablad van het Noorden about his early years at FC Groningen. “Not for clever professional transgressions. No, stupid cards after frustrations about the arbitration.’ Tadić has to come to the fore with the club management and turns out to be a quick learner on this point too. In the remaining 31 games of his first season in the Eredivisie, he no longer takes a single yellow card.

In general, Tadić’s tantrums are functional these days. When Serginio Dest answers him in March 2020 after a scolding, during a difficult match against Heracles, he presses his nose against Dest’s and berates him closely.

Among Tadić’s relatives, there are also those with short fuses. In November 2016, Wales defender Neil Taylot kicked him full in the face. His nose is broken, an accident that he says still has a bad sense of smell. Tadić himself is relaxed about the incident, but his father says in the Serbian newspaper Blic that he needed the sedative Diazepam to calm down after seeing the blood flowing over his son’s face. He says his grandsons want to travel to Wales to beat up Taylor.

A few months after the broken nose, Tadić falls straight into a ditch along the field, hard on his chin. Since then, on the advice of his wife, he wears a bracelet that brings him good luck. In addition to his anklets, it is also the only thing he still wears during his strip act in his last league game for Southampton.

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