If you aren’t familiar with Montenegrin striker Dejan Damjanović, that is fine; because there is a good chance you have never seen him play. Damjanović has made a career of playing in Asia as he has spent the bulk of that time in South Korea. It is a country that has become a home away from home for Damjanovic. The prolific target man has tallied an incredible 158 goals in 275 K-League games ahead of the 2019 season.
While Damjanović’s strike-rate and form should have led to him back to Europe, he has become one of the few imports to Asia to play his prime years and more on the continent. Now in his 13th season playing in East Asia, the 37-year-old is ready to find the back of the net once more on the Korean peninsula.
Damjanović arrived in Korea’s K-League in 2007 when he signed with Incheon United. The Montenegrin had joined from Serbia’s Bezanija, and prior to his move to Asia, Damjanović had bounced around on various loan deals.
The striker immediately found success in Korea as he finished second in the K-League in goals with 14 in 26 appearances. Although Incheon missed the league’s playoffs, the Montenegrin impressed the country’s richest club, FC Seoul.
The red and black signed Damjanović in the offseason, and it wasn’t long until he was bagging goals at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Rise to Greatness
Damjanović’s arrival at Seoul turned the capital club into the K-League’s premier side. It also saw the club challenge arch-rivals Suwon Bluewings for K-League supremacy. His 15 goals led Seoul to the playoff championship where they, unfortunately, lost to Suwon in the title game.
The Montenegrin continued to plunder goals with regularity as the club continued to excel domestically and in the Asian Champions Leagues. Seoul lifted the 2010 K-League title as Damjanović tallied 12 goals during the regular season. His best was yet to come.
In 2011, he followed up Seoul’s title win with his two best individual seasons. The Montenegrin struck the back of the net 23 times followed by a further 27 goals in 2012, proving with stats just how good a player he is. Seoul achieved a second title during the 2012 season as well.
His rise to greatness coincided with the Chinese Super League’s influx of money and foreign talent. Damjanović joined Jiangsu Sainty in 2011 before signing for Beijing Guoan later that season. His stay in China was short but successful as Damjanović bagged 26 goals in 45 Super League games for Beijing.
However, Korea was his home away from home and he returned to FC Seoul in 2016.
Dejan Damjanović – K-League Legend
Seoul regained the K-League title in Damjanović’s first season back in Korea. He combined with fellow striker Adriano to score 30 times. A 19 goal 2017 season followed, but with the striker in his mid-30s, Seoul decided it was time to part with their all-time leading scorer.
Damjanović joined Seoul’s arch-rivals Suwon ahead of the 2018 season. Without a contract offer from Seoul on the table, Suwon pounced on the man who had scored so many goals against them over the years.
He tallied 13 goals in his first season with Suwon. While his new club Suwon finished mid-table, Seoul finished in the bottom two and were forced to play in the relegation playoffs.
Damjanović will go down in history as the greatest foreign import to the K-League. It is just unfortunate that Damjanović’s goal-scoring ability wasn’t appreciated outside of the Asian continent and in Europe.
Feature Image via K League United
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