Milovanovic is planning to get into Spirit of things Yugoslav scoring star plots peel party when he nets first home goal

November 02, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

Nesko Milovanovic has never heard of Tatu, which makes the Spirit rookie's plan for celebration after a goal that much more appealing.

Tatu is the indoor soccer star who years ago began stripping off his jersey after scoring a goal and throwing it into the crowd. He is still at it, most recently as the Continental Indoor Soccer League scoring champion last summer with the Dallas Sidekicks, and has thrown more than 700 jerseys.

"Seven hundred," said Spirit defender Doug Neely, who played for the Anaheim Splash against Tatu last summer. "I hope Nesko gets to throw that many."

Now along comes Milovanovic, 21 years old, born in Yugoslavia, on U.S. soil barely a month.

Tatu who?

When he scores a goal at the Baltimore Arena, perhaps tonight against the Cleveland Crunch, Milovanovic will tear off his No. 14 jersey and heave it into the crowd. It is entirely his idea.

With coach Mike Stankovic interpreting, Milovanovic said that in Yugoslavia last year he scored the winning goal that elevated his team to the "premier league" and then threw his jersey into the crowd.

"This is America -- showtime," Milovanovic said. "I like to score more than anything else. It should be a celebration. People should cheer. Throwing my shirt will lift the crowd."

When Milovanovic arrived in this country, apparently one of the first things he did was turn on the TV. He saw the Dallas Cowboys' Deion Sanders in a bandanna and told Spirit general manager Drew Forrester he wanted to wear one, too.

Cautioned that the National Professional Soccer League would frown on that, but that a headband might be all right, Milovanovic said, OK, then he would take off his jersey after scoring.

Forrester sanctioned that, then realized there was only one jersey in Milovanovic's locker. This was Oct. 19, the day of the Spirit's opener, and Forrester called the uniform supplier and had three more jerseys delivered that afternoon.

Milovanovic, who had led the Spirit with four goals during the two-game exhibition season, kicked one ball into the net that night against the Tampa Bay Terror, but it was disallowed.

Milovanovic scored his first regular-season goal last weekend on the road, but didn't throw his jersey, preferring to reserve that for home games -- maybe tonight.

"He's a flashy player, and I have nothing against that," Stankovic said. "He wants to prove himself. He knows about the NFL and NBA already and sees America as a showtime country.

"He bugged me for a week about throwing his jersey. I just hope the other team isn't insulted. It'll be good for our crowd, of course. I want Nesko to be himself."

Clearly, that will be when he scores a goal and throws his jersey into the Baltimore Arena crowd.

Spirit tonight

bTC Opponent: Cleveland Crunch

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 35

Radio: Updates after each quarter on WWLG (1360 AM)

Outlook: Cleveland eliminated the Spirit in the second round of the National Professional Soccer League playoffs last April en route to the championship. The Crunch (1-0) will play without Hector Marinaro, last year's league scoring champion who is sitting out a three-game suspension for verbal abuse of a referee in the playoffs. Cleveland still has Zoran Karic, who had three goals in the opening win over the Toronto Shooting Stars. For the Spirit (2-1), Cris Vaccaro, Lance Johnson, Barry Stitz and Ronnie Simmons are out with injuries.

Pub Date: 11/02/96

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