Article by Djuradj Vujcic
Today marks twelve years since the passing of Serbian White Eagles legend Momcilo “Mike” Stojanovic.
Stojanovic (sometimes affectionately referred to as Stollie) was born in Lapovo, Serbia, Yugoslavia on January 26, 1947 to father Vitomir and mother Ruza.
During his career in Yugoslavia, Stojanovic (a centre-forward) played for Jedinstvo Paracin, Morava Velika Plana and First League sides Radnicki Kragujevac and Vardar.
Stojanovic was set to join French club Nice but there were complications with his papers upon signing. Instead, he went to North America and played for Serbian White Eagles FC from 1973 to 1976 when our club was a member of the National Soccer League. Stojanovic was member of the Serbian White Eagles side that won the double (the NSL Regular Season title and the Canadian Open Cup) under head coach Dragan “Don” Popovic in 1974. Stojanovic was the NSL Top Scorer in 1974 (scoring 54 goals) and 1975 (scoring 42 goals) for a whopping 96 goals in only two seasons. The 54 goals scored in 1974 remains a club and league record to this day.
Stojanovic then played for the Rochester Lancers in the North American Soccer League from 1976 to 1980. Known for his size and strength, Stojanovic scored seventeen goals in his first season with the club.
He played for the San Diego Sockers from 1981 to 1982. His most productive season was in 1981 when he scored 23 goals and was named the NASL’s North American Player of the Year. Stojanovic also played for the San Jose Earthquakes in 1982 which was his last season playing professionally. Stojanovic is 9th on the All-Time NASL Top Scorers list with 83 goals in 179 matches and 10th on the all-time points list with 211 points – ahead of legends such as George Best, Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer.
Stojanovic was 33 years old when he won his first cap with the Canadian senior national team on September 15, 1980 against New Zealand in Vancouver. Stojanovic scored on his debut as Canada won 4-0. He played in all of Canada’s matches in 1980 and 1981 under head coach Barrie Clarke. Stojanovic played a total of fifteen times and scored five goals in matches against the aforementioned New Zealand, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador and Haiti.
After playing for the Serbian White Eagles, Stojanovic chose to remain living in Toronto. A proud Serbian Canadian, he played in the Durham Region Soccer Association in 1992 at the age of 45 – finishing first in the league with the United Serbs FC based in Oshawa.
Stojanovic was inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame on June 6, 2009, becoming the first person of Serbian descent to be inducted.
On August 7, 2009 in a ceremony before the Serbian White Eagles vs. Portugal FC match at Centennial Park Stadium, Stojanovic’s number 9 jersey was retired by the Serbian White Eagles – the only number our club has ever retired.
On November 18, 2010, Stojanovic, aged 63, passed away after a courageous battle with stomach cancer. Stojanovic was interred at the Serbian Orthodox Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Milton, Ontario on November 20, 2010 with Fr. Michael Doder officiating at the funeral.
On November 19, 2011, Stojanovic was posthumously honoured in a ceremony (prior to a Rochester Lancers home match against Syracuse at the Blue Cross Arena) as an inductee of the inaugural Rochester Lancers Wall of Fame.
May the memory of Momcilo “Mike” Stojanovic and his love for our club never fade. May God rest his soul!