Veljko Paunovic: An Inspirational Star

Veljko Paunovic: An Inspirational Star
The Chicago Fire host Houston Dynamo, at Toyota Park, on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Photo: Abel Arciniega/Chicago Fire/MLS

Over the years, professional athletes have been some of the most admired people in the world. While ordinary people marvel at their skills, they also admire those athletes who demonstrate high levels of character. Such is the case with Veljko Paunovic, who for two decades has not only been one of the world’s foremost professional soccer stars, but has also demonstrated a commitment to helping others along the way.

Now retired as a soccer player, Veljko Paunovic is currently using his talents in the position as head coach of the Chicago Fire professional soccer team, where he is considered to be one of the up-and-coming young coaches in professional soccer. Known during his playing career as a midfielder and striker who could quickly create havoc for the opposing team, he played most of his professional career for various teams in Spain. While there for 11 seasons, he amassed more than 200 matches, was credited with scoring 38 goals, and gained a reputation for being a hard-nosed player who played the game the right way each and every time.

Along with his many years spent playing in Spain, Veljko Paunovic also played professional soccer in many other nations as well, including Russia, Germany, and the United States. As a youngster, he began to gain recognition for skills that seemed to be far ahead of his time, and in fact he made his professional debut at the young age of 17. While several of the teams he played on early in his career did not have tremendous overall success within their leagues, Veljko Paunovic individually quickly shined as the star of virtually any team of which he was a member.

As his coaching career has progressed, one of his crowning achievements occurred shortly after he retired as an active player. Working as a manager for the Serbian national team, he was in charge of the country’s youth teams. Applying the experience and knowledge he gained through years as a player, he led the Under-20 Serbian national team to the ultimate reward in international soccer, that being the 2015 FIFA World Cup championship.

Following his tremendous success in winning the World Cup for Serbia, Veljko Paunovic was hired as head coach of the Chicago Fire. In doing so, the club hired a coach with not only a long history of success on the field himself, but also one where winning at soccer has been a family tradition. In fact, his father, Blagoje, had also achieved success as a professional soccer player and coach.

Currently enjoying his time coaching the Fire, Veljko Paunovic is also taking time to enjoy his personal life as well. Married and the father of four children, he is known for taking his family on many exotic trips around the world. Fluent in several languages, including English, Spanish, and Serbian, he and his family can regularly be found exploring various cities across the world, where they enjoy each other’s company and learn more about the world in which they live.

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