I picked up the GDN this morning and whilst flicking through the sports pages suddenly spotted a short story headlined Ex-Athletico coach Antic dies.
I knew Raddy Antic.
He wasn't the easiest man to interview as his English was dreadful but he was one of the many characters who welcomed me into the crazy world of football reporting.
I worked as a young journalist on the Milton Keynes Mirror and Mirror on Sunday, a 'newly-created English 'city' in Buckinghamshire, and was assigned the task of covering Luton Town, one of the nearest professional football teams, 20 miles down the M1 heading south.
The alternative was covering Northampton Town, heading north up the M1, and at first I was worried I'd picked the short straw (or straw hat, I'll explain later).
Luton were in the second tier of English football and the first home game I covered they were thrashed 3-0. It looked like it was going to be a long season.
In those early 1980s, footballers weren't multi-million superstars with flash agents. I interviewed the players in the dressing room after the game, played pool with them after they had showered and changed, regularly called into goalie Jake Findlay's home for coffee and a chat as he lived in Milton Keynes, and coach David Pleat was warm and welcoming and always made a bee-line to say hello, especially when I travelled to away games.
The only 'special one' was Raddy Antic. He drove a really flash executive limo to the training ground, much better than the ones owned by the other players and probably the board of directors too. There were rumours he was 'well connected' with certain families from Eastern Europe with a nod and a wink.
After that first loss, the Hatters, as they were nicknamed because of the town's historical connection with the hat making trade and a variant on the now rarely seen straw-plaiters, rarely lost a game again.
An incredible run of victories saw them promoted to the top league. It was an amazing footballing journey.
And the Serbian, who played for Yugoslavia internationally, famously kept Luton Town in the top flight with a goal against Manchester City back in 1982/83, the last game I covered before my career in journalism took me on to daily newspapers.
The goal sparked scenes of utter elation as Pleat danced jubilantly on the pitch, one of football's most endearing moments.
Man City only had to win or draw the game to stay safe. The loss saw them relegated instead of the Hatters. Hard to imagine that happening nowadays!
Antic joined the Hatters in 1980, playing more than 100 games for the club.
Incredibly, he later went on to coach Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Luton tweeted: "We are devastated to learn of the passing of a Town legend".
RIP Radomir 'Raddy' Antic, thanks for the memories.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
Website designed by Rice Creative.