Vladislav Bogicevic

Vladislav BogicevicI am coaching with the Pennsylvania Classics club in Hershey and Lancaster so it’s going to be difficult for me to attend the reunion. My season is in the fall and as you know, it’s next to impossible to be away for a weekend. After Labor Day I’m busy until the end of November. It’s too bad because I always like to catch up with my old teammates and opponents.

Vladislav Bogicevic, known far and wide simply as Bogie, was — literally — a towering figure for the New York Cosmos and in the NASL. He was and will always be the league’s career assist leader and for many people who knew him in those days he was the wisecracking, malaprop-uttering Zlatan before Zlatan Ibrahimovic was even born. That was Bogie … wacky quotes and stellar soccer. And a great guy.

A star in Yugoslavia with Red Star Belgrade and a national team for a nation that no longer exists (now playing solely as Serbia), Bogie was long sought after by some of the top clubs in Europe, including Bayern Munich. But there was a problem with domestic rules in the days before the fall of communism in the Eastern Bloc.

“In that time the Yugoslavian federation would not let players leave before they were 28,” Bogie said. “I had some very good offers in Europe, from Germany and Italy but I was not allowed to go. Then Eddie Firmani came to see me play and told me that Franz [Beckenbauer] was going to the U.S. I was able to get out a few months before my 28th birthday. He wanted a guy who could pick up the team.”

Tall and strong, with a lethal left foot, Bogie prowled central midfield for the Cosmos in dominant fashion. He relished turning his back on a defender while holding the ball, then turning to make pinpoint passes. In every respect, Bogie seldom gave away the ball, using his ultimate skill and technique to provide the lion’s share of passes that led to goals by Giorgio Chinaglia.

“When you see the names of the people who played in the league, especially in the Cosmos, there has to be something good otherwise they won’t show up. Think about Pelé, Giorgio, Carlos Alberto, Franz. You think they show up as a hobby? The NASL needed stars, but it didn’t last for a long time. That hurt me at the time. No one knew what to do next. That gap of 12 years probably killed a lot of good talent. American talent.”

With the Cosmos, Bogie played on three championship teams and was a league all-star every season from 1978-84.

“It was so unfortunate,” he said. “We were here to help everyone who played this sport. They were looking at us, we had so much experience around the world, and they wanted to learn from us. Ricky [Davis], Boris [Bandov], [Erhardt] Kapp, [Gary] Etherington, [David] Brcic, so many of them. People forget that the Cosmos sent so many American players to the national team.”
“When I came to the U.S. is said let’s see what’s happening. I thought that the country needed 35 to 50 years to catch up. And I’m still right. From 1978, that’s 40 years. Hopefully having the World Cup here [in 2026] will help.”