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                                                                The Soccer History of George Mihaljevic

 

St. Louis Star's Coach George Mihaljevic: The passion and love of the game for George Mihaljevic began at a very early age. Professioal soccer clubs in Yugoslavia had scouts viewing young players, and at the age of 12, George was selected and signed by the professional Radnicki Soccer Club to attend soccer training. He was trained by Dragon Filipovic, nicknamed "Skoba" one of the greatest professional and National Team trainers in Europe. George's soccer ability and skill flourished under Skoba's tutelage. At age 16, George was made Captain of the Junior National Soccer Team of Yugoslavia.

 

After grammar school, George was sent to a trade school to be a machinist. Yugoslavia at that time was behind the "Iron Curtain" and under a Communist regime ruled by Josef Broz Tito. He learned about the United States and was very much interested in improving his life. As a young boy of 16 he fled Communism and migrated from Yugoslavia passing through Austria, Switzerland and Germany, and at the age of 21 in 1957 was able to make his way to the United States. He chose St. Louis because of the fame that St. Louis had as a great soccer center, i.e., the mostly St. Louis -player Kutis team that beat England 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup: and the extensive soccer youth programs such as : Catholic Youth Council (CYC) and Khoury leagues. He joined the Kutis Soccer Team in 1957.  George was the first foreign born player to join the Kutis team. Since he was learning to be a citizen of the U.S., he felt an obligation to volunteer for military service and went in the U.S. Army in the summer of 1958. He was sent back to Germany as a U.S. soldier. The military recognized his soccer skills and athletic ability and put him on the United States Military "CISM" Soccer Team to compete against other countries' military soccer teams in Europe.

 

George worked as a machinist, married Mary Coyle, had a family of 5 children and trained soccer teams in his spare time. He established the White Star Soccer Team and competed in the 1966 Missouri Amateur and Open Cup Championships and won. To reward his team he invited the Bayern- Munich Soccer Team which won the European Championship that year to a game in the brand new Busch Stadium for the benefit of the American Cancer Society. It was the first soccer game and the first game other than baseball to be played in this beautiful new stadium.

 

In 1966 the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) was established in the U.S. The professional people here in St. Louis recognized "George's talent and signed him to a contract to coach the St. Louis Stars Professional Soccer Team. He immediately left for Europe to recruit and sign professional soccer players to come to the U.S. George and Manager Rudi Gutendorf put together a winning team. They came out 2nd in the entire league behind the California Clippers in the first National Professional Soccer League season of 1967. After the season in the fall of 1967, George went to the Sportschule in Cologne (KOLN), Germany, and studied under the teaching of Hennes Weisweiler, one of the world's best minds in the tactic and technique of soccer.

 

In the spring of 1968, George founded the Mihaljevic Soccer School, the first official incorporated "Soccer School" in the United States: holding Spring Summer and Fall Semesters. The Mihaljevic Soccer School was a huge success. His knowledge and discipline of the game were unsurpassed. He entered International Tournaments here at home, in Canada and also in Europe and won The Robbie International Tournament in Canada 3 years in a row and also played in the 700 year Inaugaral Tournament in Holland and went undefeated. A great number of colleges and universities across the country contacted George to secure players from his soccer school to fill the ranks of their soccer teams. Among them were the U.S. Air Force Academy and Harvard University. Many of his players went on to be professional soccer players and coaches.

 

The Mihaljevic Soccer School lives on, George's son Joe Mihaljevic opened the Mihaljevic Soccer School  several years ago in Folsom, California. Joe loves teaching soccer as much as his Dad, bringing excellent soccer skills to American boys and girls so we are able to compete and win against the best soccer teams in the world.