Ilija Mitić: American Soccer Star
Ilija Mitić was a prominent American professional soccer player known for his contributions to the North American Soccer League (NASL), where he left a lasting mark as a top scorer and notable player.
Career Highlights: Ilija Mitić began his soccer journey in Yugoslavia, playing for Partizan and later joining OFK Beograd. He achieved success by winning the Yugoslav championship in 1960-61 with Partizan.
His venture in American soccer commenced with the Oakland Clippers in 1967, a team in the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). He showcased his skills and prowess, helping the Clippers secure the league title and earning a spot in the NPSL’s Best XI team. The NPSL eventually merged with the United Soccer Association to form the NASL.
Mitić’s success continued as he transitioned to the NASL, notably as a key member of the Dallas Tornado, making significant contributions both as a forward and later as a midfielder. He also played indoor soccer, displaying his versatility and talent on the field.
In 1975, Mitić concluded his NASL career with the San Jose Earthquakes, leaving a legacy as the league’s sixth all-time leading goal scorer.
International Career: Mitić represented the United States national team in one ‘A’ international match, which took place on August 10, 1973, against Poland. Despite the U.S. team’s loss in the friendly match, Mitić’s participation highlighted his prowess at the international level.
Death: Ilija Mitić passed away on September 2, 2023, at the age of 83, leaving behind a significant legacy in American soccer and the NASL, especially as one of its top scorers and a player who achieved the remarkable feat of scoring 100 goals in the league.