Glenn Hoddle signed some terrible players when he was in charge of Tottenham. Kazuyuki Toda is a prime example of a player who couldn’t cut it in the Premiership. Another is the Slovenian playmaker Milenko Acimovic, who has been good for most of the clubs he has played for but for whatever reason, failed to make the grade at White Hart Lane.
Acimovic signed for Spurs in 2002 on a free transfer, after a string of impressive performances for Slovenia at Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup and Red Star Belgrade, which had caught the attention of numerous clubs from Europe. A dependable playmaker with an abundance of skill and great passing ability, Acimovic had the ability to score as well as create and scored a sensational 50 metre wonder lob against Ukraine to help Slovenia get to Euro 2000.
Unfortunately for the Slovenian midfielder, Acimovic couldn’t cut it at White Hart Lane and often looked dreadful in a Spurs shirt. Fans will remember his glaring miss against Fulham in February 2003 from a few yards out when he headed straight at the keeper when it would have been easier to score. In total, Acimovic started only 4 games for Spurs (making 13 substitute appearances) and failing to score in his time in England.
You can argue that Acimovic didn’t really get the chance to prove himself at Spurs as he only started 4 games, but in those four games he showed he was not up to the required standard. The midfielder has said he regretted his move to Tottenham, saying in 2005:
“Maybe I made a mistake by signing so early in England. Perhaps I should have come to France before to learn.”
Acimovic joined French side Lille in 2004, initially on loan before signing a permanent deal. It was in France that the midfielder rediscovered his form, leading Lille to Champions League qualification in his first season. As the main creative presence in the side, Acimovic was a key player for Lille and even scored the only goal in a shock win over Man United in the Champions League group-stages in 2005.
A serious ankle injury in January 2006 brought an end to Acimovic’s spell at Lille and he joined Austria Vienna in 2007 after a short, ill-fated spell in Qatar with Al-Ittihad. In Austria, Acimovic has flourished and become a key part of the team. Last season, the Slovenian scored 14 goals in 35 games for Vienna and this season has weighed in with 9 goals in 31 games, helping his club reach third place in the Austrian Bundesliga.
Now 33, Acimovic will not be playing for Slovenia when they take on England at the World Cup this summer, having retired from international football in 2007. Acimovic is the third most capped player for Slovenia, having made 74 appearances for his country, scoring 13 goals.
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