Veljko Paunović was born in 1977 and became a professional Serbian footballer by the age of 17 years old as part of FK Partizan. Veljko has since retired as a footballer, but during his time as a professional player, he traveled the world for his sport, playing in the United States, Russia, Germany, and Spain. Veljko played at his best as a midfielder and sometimes even a striker. After joining his first team as a professional with FK Partizan, Veljko moved to Spain and spent almost 10 years living in the country, signing contracts with different clubs over the years.
As a boy, Veljko Paunović lived and breathed his sport, and he spent most of the day focused on it in some way, whether it was watching it on television, radio, or playing with locals. Veljko’s father was a massive inspiration to him while he was growing up and made a large impact on his ability to play and to be the coach he is today. Seeing his father as a hero, Veljko is also following in his footsteps career-wise, taking up coaching after retirement just like his father did.
The Chicago Fire has a big history behind it throughout the city of Chicago, and Veljko has had the privilege of coaching the team for the past three seasons. Veljko has recently started up his fourth season as the team coach and also signed an extension to continue coaching the Chicago Fire for another three seasons. The Fire has a winning legacy, which is why Veljko was brought in to help the team maintain that legacy after successful handling of the Servia U20 team.
Veljko though about being a coach quite early on in his professional career, even when taking into consideration how young he was when he started. After 8 or 9 years, Veljko started to think about the legacy he was going to leave behind, which is when he started considering being a coach. It was still a ways off as Veljko was in his prime at 26 years old, but he knew he was meant to take up coaching, and he even did it on the field while he was playing to help his teammates when they made mistakes.
With his father before him, Veljko was bound to be a good coach, but he still took the time to get some quality advice before he took up coaching from an old friend, Diego Simeone, also known as El Cholo. Diego is a former player and midfielder who played alongside Veljko on the team Atletico Madrid in Spain. Veljko learned from Diego that coaching is all about the players, building their trust and understanding the different personalities. A good coach can gain the trust of his team and influence them regardless of their character and disposition.
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