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Serbian American Businessman, Former Owner of the Premier League Clubs
Milan Mandarić, one of the most successful Serbian businessmen abroad, achieved his greatest business success in the United States of America, where he lived for more than three decades. Mandarić was born in the village of Vrebac in Lika (Croatia), from where he moved with his family to Novi Sad (Serbia) as a child, where he grew up and began his business journey, working in his father's store, where he showed exceptional business talent early on.

Like many other ambitious businessmen, Mandarić very quickly outgrew the goals set for him by the environment in which he lived at the time. He could not find a common language with the then political regime, in the former Yugoslavia, which saw successful private entrepreneurs as enemies of the system and a threat to its existence. He moved to the USA at the end of the sixties of the last century, where he soon founded the company Lika corporation, which engaged in the production of computer equipment and in that business also achieved great financial success and realized the American dream. When he sold it, he founded a new company, Sanmina, which at the time of its founding had only 3 employees. Today, the company, named after his daughters, has 65,000 employees and is successful all over the world, in China, India, Mexico, the USA and Europe.

The great love of the boy from Lika from an early age was football. He returned to it at the peak of his business fame, proving that innate business success can be applied in any business, including sports. He was one of the co-founders of the football league and started investing in California football clubs, and Mandarić achieved his greatest success and reputation by returning to European football and the English Premier League, where he invested in three clubs. His business model in the sports business was the same as in other businesses; it involved investing in clubs that were in bad shape, upgrading them and selling them in a much better condition than he bought them. He spent 17 years in England where he achieved his greatest successes in Portsmouth and Leicester City. His contribution to those clubs was accompanied by the exceptional popularity that Mandarić still enjoys in the local communities, where football is the favorite sport, business, pastime of millions and a way of life.

His love for football brought him back to the former Yugoslavia, to Slovenia, where he also achieved great sporting success, first in Koper and then in Olimpija, which he brought back to the very top of Slovenian football, after spending several years in the lower leagues. In a business sense, those investments were incomparably more modest than those in England, Mandarić spent a lot of his own money in Olimpija, in order to feel firsthand how much the enthusiasm for football in this region is incomparably more modest than he expected.

With a restless character, ambitious and determined, prone to dynamic changes in his lifestyle, Mandarić always easily embarked on new challenges that were driven by the desire for success and setting new business standards. He preferred to describe his attitude towards work and co- workers with a few words: If it is being done well, it should be supported, if it is not going as it should, we try to fix what is not working, but if even then there are no real results, then changes are inevitable and they are never simple or painless. Milan Mandarić is 85 years old today, he spends most of his time on the route Opatija, Ljubljana, Belgrade, San Jose, and he is living proof that even at that mature age, a man can seriously engage in business and dream his youthful dreams.