Best Slovenian Football Players - World Class Goalie, and a Striker in the Future?

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 29.4.2024.

With their country getting worldwide recognition for its basketball stars - mainly Luka Doncic, the best Slovenian football players haven’t been slacking either. In a year where Norway with two world-class players didn’t qualify for the Euro and after Italy missed two World Cups, just being amongst the continent’s elite is a massive deal for a country of two million.

While Slovenia hasn’t achieved enough to be included as one of the small countries that are huge in football (unlike their neighbours) the Slovenians have bragging rights coming into the 2024 EURO.

Sharing the group with the same team they faced in the qualifiers - Denmark. Not only that, but Slovenia had the same number of points as the northern European nation.

Slovenia has to gather its best and beyond when facing the select quality of Danes, Englishmen, and Serbs.

As usual, we’re selecting on the basis of entire careers, with some higher weight given to more recent years. Looking at stats, trophies won, individual accolades, and performances for Slovenia.

#10 Benjamin Verbic (Panathinaikos) - AML, 30

Loco-Kopenhagen (1).jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Even though he hasn't experienced football in the top five divisions at the age of 30, Benjamin Verbic has made quite the career for himself. Leaving a mark in Slovenia first, playing 126 times for Celje, scoring 36 goals and making 23 assists before moving on to Copenhagen. There, the inside-forward scored 22 goals and made 15 assists in 99 games, winning two double crowns! He flourished in Ukraine the most, winning one title, two cups, and two Supercups with Dynamo Kyiv. In 121 games, Verbic scored 37 goals and made 12 assists!

For Slovenia, the now Panathinaikos footballer started playing in 2015, and has counted to 58 appearances, with eight goal involvements (6G/2A).

#9 Peter Stojanovic (Sampdoria on loan from Empoli) - RB, 28

Petar Stojanovic.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

One of two Slovenian players on this list who is currently playing in the Italian second division. This might seem like a reason to dismiss the team, yet countries like Greece and Norway failed to reach the EURO 2024, while Slovenia with most of these best players listed here - did. Petar Stojanovic stayed in Croatia for most of his career, playing 187 games for Dinamo Zagreb. Winning five titles there, four in Slovenia with Maribor, and getting three cups in each of the neighbouring countries. Enjoying over 50 continental games for these clubs.

A proper team player on the pitch, Stojanovic played 60 Serie A games for Empoli and 51 for Slovenia. Where, as a right-back, he has 10 assists already. A number that will surely rise as he is bound to play with the #3 player on this list. A proper cross target.

#8 Andraz Sporar (Panathinaikos) - CF, 30

Andraz Sporar.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

For a player who just turned 30, Sporar has had quite the nomadic career. But he managed to collect quite the number of games under his belt - 423 -with 179 goals and 56 assists. Most notably representing Sporting through 2019 and 2020, scoring 11 times in 38 matches. His best record was for Slovan Bratislava - 60 goals and 17 assists in 78 games! That in fact was what recommended him to the Portuguese giants.

Sporar has made quite the peculiar trophy collected, the Portuguese title, League Cup, Portuguese Cup with Braga, two Swiss titles with Basel, one Cup, a title in Slovakia, as well as a Cup, and a Slovenian title with Olimpija Ljubljana. With 11 goals and 10 assists in 51 games he will be a worthy substitute or partner to Slovenia's high-profile striker.

#7 Sandi Lovric (Udinese) - CM, 26

Sandi Lovric.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

One of the two Slovenian Udinese players, both of similar age. Sandi Lovric has gathered 70 appearances for the club from Udine, scoring seven times and making nine assists. While previously playing in Switzerland for Lugano (108 games, 12 goals, 21 assists) and Sturm Graz in Austria. Winning the Austrian Cup and the Swiss Cup, respectfully.

For Slovenia, the central midfield all-rounder played in 33 games, scoring four times and making the same number of assists. He is to be the backbone of the national team for the next eight years, alongside his teammate and the #3 ranked Slovenian on this list.

#6 Jasmin Kurtic (Sudtirol) - CM, 35

Jasmin Kurtić01.jpg
By Rapallo80 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

No active player has more caps for Slovenia than the current Italian second-tier player Jasmin Kurtic - 90. Which is enough for the third spot on the all-time list and just 12 appearances separated from the record-holder. Considering that Kurtic is still playing for Slovenia, and the upcoming matches at the Euro, he could at the very least leapfrog Valter Birsa with whom he shares the number three spot.

Kurtic is a veteran of Serie A, with 289 appearances in the league representing seven clubs - Atalanta, Parma, Fiorentina, Palermo, SPAL, Sassuolo, and Torino. Scoring 29 goals and making 16 assists.

#5 Jaka Bijol (Udinese) - CB, 25

Jaka Bijol 2021.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

An aerial threat from the back, Jaka Bijol played a season's worth of football in his country before moving away to CSKA Moscow where he collected 96 caps, scoring seven goals and making eight assists! Which are numbers worthy of midfielders. He has a Russian Supercup to show for it.

A loan to Hannover 96 in the second German division wasn't that fruitful, but in Udine, Bijol is flourishing again with 53 appearances in two seasons. Bijol started playing for his national team in 2018 and already has 47 appearances for the Zmajciki.

#4 Josip Ilicic (Maribor) - AM, 35

Josip Ilicic 2021.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Now back in his home country, winding down his career at the age of 36 - after an unexpected hiatus - yet Josip Ilicic has one of the best CVs amongst Slovenian players. The tall attacking midfielder reigned in Serie A football for Palermo, Atalanta, and Fiorentina. Playing a total of 339 games in the Italian supreme division, scoring 96 goals and making 66 assists! With over 60 continental games overall.

Ilicic retired from international football in 2021, but he has collected 80 caps - enough for the eighth spot of all-time national team representatives. With 16 goals and 17 assists, his record on this stage was equally fruitful. Ilicic was one of the few who challenged the reign of the #1 ranked Slovenian football player on this list in winning of the Slovenian Footballer of the Year award - claiming it in 2019 whilst with Atalanta. He won his country cup in 2009 and the title two years later, first with Interblock Ljubljana and the latter with Maribor.

Ilicic is past his best, but this past decade era of Slovenian football was marked by him.

#3 Benjamin Sesko (RB Leipzig) - CF, 20

FC RB Salzburg gegen LASK (2023-04-16) 21 (cropped).jpg
By Werner100359 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The new hope of Slovenian football is already delivering. Benjamin Sesko won the Slovenian Youth Footballer of the Year award three times - in 2021, 2022, and 2023. With the senior award for the Slovenian Football of the Year also going his way in 2022! A product of the infamous Red Bull football corporation, Sesko started out in Salzburg's youth ranks, before moving on to Lifering, then graduating at Red Bull Salzburg with the crown being the 2022 award. He is now representing RB Leipzig.

Sesko is next in line of the freakishly tall centre forwards - at 195 cm - who can still move quite well. In Austria, he scored 29 goals and made 11 assists in 79 matches. Winning three titles and one Cup. Since his move to the Bundesliga in the summer of 2023, Sesko played in 38 games for Leipzig, scoring 14 goals and making two assists. Winning the German Supercup.

Of course, Sesko is the youngest debutant in the history of Slovenian football, with a margin of 13 months - making his debut a day after his 18th birthday. A decision which paid of to the national team as he bagged 11 goals and six assists in his 28 games. He seems destined to take all the records of the best Slovenian football players.

#2 Kevin Kempl (RB Leipzig) - CM, 33

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By Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Despite winning the award for the Slovenian Footballer of the Year twice, Kevin Kampl only played 28 games for the national team. Born in Germany to Slovenian parents, Kampl went through Bayer Leverkusen's academy before representing Greuther Furt, Osnabruck, and Aalen but then making a name for himself in Austria with Red Bull Salzburg. That's when he received the national individual trophies.

Kampl won two double crowns with Salzburg before moving to Borussia Dortmund for €12,000,000. Yet he stayed only briefly and Leverkusen paid €13,000,000 for their kid years after his departure. Kampl however found his home at RB Leipzig the best, with a €20,000,000 move in 2017. Since then, he has played 242 games for the new force of German football, scoring nine times and making 23 assists. Winning two Cups and one Supercup in Germany. Overall, for all three major clubs, he has played 237 Bundesliga matches.

In the end, Kampl retired from international duty in 2018 due to his problems with an ankle.

#1 Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid) - GK

Jan Oblak

Undoubtedly the best Slovenian football player. Maybe even ever. But, aged 31, Jan Oblak has only played 62 games for his national team - that is because he was preceded by another goalkeeping giant Samir Handanovic. But Oblak has been one of the top five - sometimes even top three - goalkeepers in the world for quite some seasons now.

Oblak has been with Atleti for a decade, following his €16,000,000 move from Benfica. In that time, the Slovenian made 440 appearances, recording 203 clean sheets! Winning La Liga, Europa League, UEFA Supercup, Spanish Supercup, and the club player of the year award. In that championship-winning campaign. With the Portuguese side, Oblak won a triple crown - title and two domestic cups before making the switch to Spain.

With Slovenia, Oblak still managed to have a near 50% clean sheet rate at 64 games played and kept the other team to a zero score on 30 occasions. Oblak naturally dominated the Slovenian Footballer of the Year award, winning it seven times! First he had a straight poker from 2015 to 2018, then he won it in 2020 and 2021, before getting one back in 2023 as well. As a goalie, Diego Simeone's backline commander is just in his prime and could easily play for another six, or seven years. Possibly making it to 10 awards for Slovenian Footballer of the Year.


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