Serbia’s national football squad (Serbian: удалска рeреентаиа рие, romanized: Fudbalska reprezentacija Srbije) competes in men’s international football. It is governed by the Football Association of Serbia, Serbia’s regulatory organization for football.
Serbia was represented (along with Montenegro) in the new FR Yugoslavia national football team after the breakup of SFR Yugoslavia and its football team in 1992. Despite qualifying for Euro 92, the team was barred from competing due to international sanctions, with the ruling also applying to World Cup 94 and Euro 96 qualifiers.
The national team played its first friendly in December 1994, and with the lifting of sanctions, the generation of the 1990s was able to compete in the World Cup in 1998, reaching the round of 16, and the Euro 2000 quarter-finals. The squad competed in the FIFA World Cup competitions in 2006, 2010, and 2018, but failed to advance past the group round on all three occasions. They will compete in the 2022 World Cup.
Due to the country’s name change, Serbia competed as Serbia and Montenegro between February 2003 and June 2006. Following a referendum in 2006, Montenegro declared independence, resulting in separate football federations and the team’s final renaming and establishment as the Serbia national football team. FIFA and UEFA regard Serbia as the official successor to both the Kingdom of Yugoslavia/SFR Yugoslavia and the FR Yugoslavia/Serbia and Montenegro national football teams.
Serbia within Yugoslavia 1920–1992
Under the name Jugoslavenski nogometni savez, the Football Federation of what was then the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia) was founded in Zagreb in 1919. Jovan Rui was the first Serb to play for the national team in its international debut, a 7-0 thrashing by Czechoslovakia at the Antwerp Olympic Games in 1920.
The Belgrade Football Subassociation hosted a friendly match between the France national football team and a Belgrade XI known as the “Serbian representatives” in 1921. The team included footballers from SK Jugoslavija and BSK, two interwar Serbian clubs. The French delegation was on a four-game tour of Yugoslavia, with the final exhibition game taking place on July 3 at Belgrade’s SK Jugoslavija Stadium. The visitors won 3-0, with Prince Regent Aleksandar I and FIFA President Jules Rimet in attendance.
Svetislav Gliovi led the first unofficial national team representing the Federal State of Serbia in a tournament held to commemorate World War II’s end in 1945.  The Serbian team, which included the newly formed Red Star squad, won its first game 2-1 against FS Montenegro, then went on to win the tournament 1-0 against the Yugoslav People’s Army team in Belgrade.
In 1960 and 1968, the rebuilt Yugoslavia reached the UEFA European Championship finals, and in 1962, it placed fourth in the FIFA World Cup. Serbian footballers would continue to play a role in the Yugoslav national team throughout the socialist era, with names like Rajko Miti, Branko Stankovi, Vladimir Beara, Vujadin Bokov, Todor Veselinovi, Milo Milutinovi, Borivoje Kosti, Milan Gali, Vladimir Durkovi, Velibor Vasovi, Dragan Daji, Jovan Aimovi, Duan Bajevi, Vladimir Petrovi, and others until the states SFR Yugoslavia’s national team played its final game on March 25, 1992, losing 2-0 to the Netherlands.
Era of Yugoslavia/Serbia and Montenegro 1992–2006
While the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, comprised of Serbia and Montenegro, was created on April 27, 1992, its teams were barred from participating in any international sporting events, including the national football team, as a consequence of U.N. sanctions related to the Yugoslav conflict.  As a result, the national team did not play its first game as a new country until December 23, 1994, when Brazil triumphed 2-0 in a friendly match in Porto Alegre.  This was the first team made up entirely of Serbian and Montenegrin players, and Slobodan Santra, a former Yugoslav national team player, was named the team’s first manager. Three days later, the next game was played, this time in Buenos Aires, and Argentina won 1-0.
Due to international sanctions, the team was unable to compete in either the 1994 World Cup or the Euro 1996 qualifying process.
1998 World Cup
Because FR Yugoslavia became a member of FIFA and UEFA in 1994, the squad was eligible to compete in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers. Slobodan Santra was appointed team manager.  Yugoslavia was placed in Group 6 with Euro 1996 runners-up Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Faroe Islands, and Malta in the qualifications. Yugoslavia finished second with 23 points, trailing Spain. Yugoslavia qualified for the play-off, where they were paired with Hungary. Yugoslavia qualified for the World Cup after winning 12-1 on aggregate.
The squad was drawn in Group F, along with Germany, the United States, and Iran. Yugoslavia defeated Iran 1-0, owing to a goal by defender Sinia Mihajlovi.  After leading Germany 2-0, a free kick from Michael Tarnat deflected off Mihajlovi and into the goal, before Oliver Bierhoff equalized it at 2-2 in the 80th minute.  The following game, Yugoslavia defeated the United States 1-0 thanks to a goal in the fourth minute by Slobodan Komljenovi.  Yugoslavia finished second in the group, while Germany won with a higher goal difference.
Yugoslavia faced the Netherlands in the Round of 16 due to their second-place finish. Yugoslavia began the game with a solitary striker, but its defensive tactics were ineffective as Dennis Bergkamp put the Netherlands ahead in the 38th minute. Yugoslavia applied pressure on the Dutch after the start of the second half, resulting in a header from Komljenovi. The penalty handed to Yugoslavia after Vladimir Jugovi was fouled was the game’s turning moment.  Predrag Mijatovi failed to score, and the score stayed 1-1.  The Yugoslavs were discouraged when the Dutch grabbed the lead. In the last seconds of the game, Edgar Davids sent a 20-meter strike into the Yugoslav net, beating goalie Ivica Kralj. This marked the end of Yugoslavia’s run in the 1998 World Cup.
The first-seeded Yugoslavia was drawn in a group with Croatia for the Euro 2000 qualifiers, marking the first games between the two teams since Yugoslavia’s disintegration. The Republic of Ireland, Macedonia, and Malta were the other teams in the group. Milan Ivadinovi was fired, and Vujadin Bokov took his place.
The team began by defeating Ireland 1-0 in Belgrade before defeating Malta 3-0 in Ta’ Qali. Due to NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the home game versus the Maltese was shifted to Thessaloniki, Greece. The team triumphed 4-1. After the bombing, the first match against Croatia was played in Belgrade, and it was interrupted due to a power outage at the start of the second half, resuming after 43 minutes and eventually finishing 0-0.
A 2-1 loss to Ireland in Dublin was followed by victories over Macedonia at home and away (3-1 and 4-2, respectively), implying that Yugoslavia needed to win its final qualifier against Croatia in Zagreb, or draw with Ireland if they failed to beat Macedonia in Skopje, to qualify automatically for Euro 2000. In the end, Ireland conceded an injury-time equalizer, resulting in Yugoslavia’s 2-2 draw with Croatia.
Yugoslavia was drawn in Group C, together with Spain, Norway, and another former Yugoslav country, Slovenia, for the finals. Slovenia led 3-0 in the opening game at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi, but Yugoslavia equalized with three goals in six second-half minutes. The squad then defeated Norway 1-0 in Liège, due to an early backheel by Savo Miloevi. The Yugoslavs took the lead three times in the last group game against Spain in Bruges, however a Gaizka Mendieta penalty and an Alfonso strike in injury time clinched a 4-3 triumph for the Spaniards and top position in the group. Despite this, Yugoslavia ended second, tied on points with Norway but classified first owing to their victory in Liège.
The squad had one player sent off in each of the three games (Sinia Mihajlovi, Mateja Keman, and Slavia Jokanovi, respectively).  Yugoslavia was drawn with the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. In Rotterdam, the co-hosts won 6-1, with Patrick Kluivert scoring a hat-trick. Despite Yugoslavia’s elimination, Savo Miloevi was named the tournament’s joint top scorer, along with Patrick Kluivert. Both players scored five goals, but Miloevi played one fewer game.
2002 World Cup campaign
Ilija Petkovi took over as head coach in July 2000, succeeding Bokov.  Yugoslavia was placed in Group 1 for the 2002 World Cup qualifiers, along with Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Faroe Islands, and Luxembourg. After defeating Luxembourg, Petkovi was fired and replaced by a three-man squad comprised of Bokov, Dejan Savievi, and Ivan Urkovi. Despite winning both games against Luxembourg and the Faroe Islands, as well as an away game against Switzerland, Yugoslavia suffered a home loss and an away draw against Russia, as well as a home draw against Switzerland and both draw games against Slovenia. Yugoslavia finished the qualifying campaign in third place, one point behind second-placed Slovenia.
Savievi was named coach in July 2002.  Yugoslavia was placed in Group 9 for the Euro 2004 qualifiers, alongside Italy, Wales, Finland, and Azerbaijan. During qualification, the country underwent a political transition, and the newly christened Serbia and Montenegro made their debut against Azerbaijan in February 2003.  After a 2-1 loss to Azerbaijan in June, Savievi resigned and was replaced by Ilija Petkovi.  Serbia and Montenegro failed to qualify despite drawing both games against group favourites and eventual group winners Italy and winning both games against runners-up Wales. This was primarily due to a 2-2 home draw, a 2-1 loss to Azerbaijan, and a 3-0 away loss to Finland.
2006 World Cup
Petkovi retained the team’s manager; however, qualification for the 2006 World Cup was different. Serbia and Montenegro finished top in their qualification group with an unblemished record, ahead of Spain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, and San Marino. Serbia and Montenegro also had the best defensive record of the 51 teams competing in qualification, allowing only one goal in ten matches.
Montenegro declared its independence from Serbia on June 3, 2006, following a referendum. As the World Cup approached, it was decided that the Serbia and Montenegro team that had qualified for the tournament would compete, with the team being split into separate teams representing the new countries of Montenegro and Serbia once the team was no longer in the tournament.
Serbia and Montenegro were eliminated from the group stage after losing their first game to the Netherlands. The final result was 1-0, with Arjen Robben scoring the game’s only goal. They also lost 6-0 to Argentina in their second game, Serbia and Montenegro’s worst ever international loss. With two losses with the Netherlands and Argentina winning both of their games, Serbia and Montenegro were unable to qualify for the knockout stages and were forced to play for dignity alone in their last group game against Ivory Coast. After trailing 2-0 for much of the first half, the Elephants rallied to win 3-2, leaving Serbia and Montenegro with no points.
Euro 2008 campaign
Javier Clemente, Serbia’s first foreign coach, was named to lead the squad to the 2008 Euros.  After Montenegro gained independence, Serbia celebrated with a 3-1 victory over the Czech Republic. Serbia was placed in Group A for the Euro 2008 qualifications, together with Poland, Portugal, Belgium, Finland, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. A great start to qualifying was overshadowed by the last round of matches, in which the team dropped points against Finland, Belgium, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. They finally finished third, three points behind group winners Poland and runners-up Portugal. Clemente was fired after the team failed to qualify for the World Cup.
Serbia replaced Clemente with Miroslav uki, who resigned on August 19, 2012, without having played any official games due to disagreements with the Football Association of Serbia.
2010 World Cup
Following Uki’s resignation, Radomir Anti was appointed coach. Serbia began their World Cup qualification campaign in 2008. Their qualification group included France, the 1998 World Cup winners and 2006 World Cup runners-up, as well as Austria, Lithuania, and the Faroe Islands. Serbia performed admirably in the qualifiers, earning the team automatic qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. They confirmed qualification with a 5-0 win over Romania at home.
The captain of the 2010 World Cup team was Dejan Stankovi, who became the only player in World Cup history to have played under three different national names.  They were scheduled to play Ghana, Germany, and Australia.
Their first group game was against Ghana, and both teams had chances, but a red card to Aleksandar Lukovi and a handball by substitute Zdravko Kuzmanovi in the second half gave Ghana a penalty, and they won all three points. Serbia was beaten 1-0 when Asamoah Gyan scored eight minutes from time. Serbia defeated Germany 1-0 in their second group match, thanks to a first-half goal by Milan Jovanovi. The victory was dubbed “the most famous day in Serbian football history” by FIFA’s official YouTube channel.
Serbia only needed one point to advance to the knockout stages, but they were defeated 2-1 by Australia. Tim Cahill and Brett Holman scored two goals for Australia in the second half. A late goal by Marko Panteli was only a consolation. They came in last place in the group.
Radomir Anti was fired two games into the Euro 2012 qualification campaign, after a 1-1 draw at home against Slovenia. The firing resulted in the appointment of Vladimir Petrovi to the position.
Serbia was placed in Group C for Euro 2012 qualification, alongside Italy, Slovenia, Estonia, Northern Ireland, and the Faroe Islands. The qualifying stage was led by Radomir Anti and ended with Vladimir Petrovi. Serbia and Anti began the first two games with a 3-0 win away to the Faroe Islands and a 1-1 draw at home to Slovenia, however this result ended Anti’s term as the country’s coach. New coach Petrović faced setbacks with a 3–1 loss at home to Estonia and an abandoned match resulting in a 3–0 loss to Italy due to crowd trouble from the Serbian away supporters in Genoa.
Serbia regained form with a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland at home, but only managed a 1-1 draw away to Estonia. Following that, Serbia won back-to-back games, winning 1-0 away to Northern Ireland and 3-1 at home to the Faroe Islands. Serbia is now in pole position to confirm a play-off spot, trailing Italy.
Serbia needed a win against Italy at home to secure a play-off position, but their efforts were met with a 1-1 draw. The squad did, however, have one more chance to secure a play-off spot when they faced Slovenia away. Even though Serbia had a better goal differential than Estonia, this game was a must-win; a draw was not enough to advance. Neither team played particularly well in the first half, but a long-range goal put Slovenia up 1-0 at the break.
Nemanja Vidi missed a penalty in the second half, and Serbia exited the tournament for the third time in a row during the qualifying group stages, falling one point short of Estonia. Serbia failed to qualify for the European Championships for the second time. Following the team’s failure to qualify, Vladimir Petrovi was fired.
2014 World Cup campaign
Dejan Stankovi and Nemanja Vidi declared their retirement from international football before of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign.  Branislav Ivanovi was appointed captain. On April 24, 2012, Sinia Mihajlovi, a former member of the national team, was named coach. Serbia was placed in Group A for World Cup qualification, along with Croatia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, and Wales. The team started the qualification campaign with a goalless draw against Scotland and a 6-1 victory over Wales. Serbia was defeated by Macedonia and Belgium in the next two games.
Serbia faced Croatia at Zagreb on March 22, 2013. Because of their rivalry on and off the field, the game was keenly anticipated in both countries. Croatia triumphed 2-0.  Serbia then defeated Scotland 2-0 at home in a crucial qualifier, but their World Cup hopes were dashed after falling to Belgium 2-1. In the corresponding match at home, Serbia drew 1-1 with Croatia, with 18-year-old Aleksandar Mitrovi scoring an equalizer in the second half after Mario Manduki opened the scoring.
After that, they beat Wales 3-0 in Cardiff. Dejan Stankovi played his final game in a friendly against Japan, which Serbia won 2-0. He finished his career with 103 appearances for the national team, breaking the previous record of 102 held by Savo Miloevi. Serbia finished qualifying with a 5-1 home win over Macedonia, finishing third in the group, three points behind Croatia and group winners Belgium.
Dick Advocaat was named coach in 2014 after the team failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.  Serbia was selected in Group I for UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying, with Portugal, Denmark, Albania, and Armenia. Advocaat began with a 1-1 friendly match against France. The team started qualifying with a 1-1 tie against Armenia. The game versus Albania in Belgrade was called off due to crowd disturbance after a drone bearing an Albanian flag and a map of Greater Albania was Serbia was originally awarded with a 3–0 victory by UEFA, and deducted three points, but on 10 July 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reversed the earlier decision and awarded Albania a 3–0 win.flown over the pitch.
Serbia was defeated 1-3 by Denmark in Belgrade on November 14, 2014. After this game, Advocaat resigned, and Radovan Uri was named as the new coach on November 25.
Serbia’s first match in 2015 was a qualifying match against Portugal in Lisbon, which Serbia defeated 2-1, therefore eliminating their prospects of qualifying for Euro 2016. Serbia lost 2-0 to Denmark in a qualifying match in Copenhagen on June 13, 2015. Serbia would be mathematically eliminated from Euro 2016 qualification if CAS rules on the abandoned game against Albania on July 10. Serbia won their first match, 2-0, against Armenia on September 4, 2015. Serbia defeated Albania on October 8, 2015, with goals from Aleksandar Kolarov and Adem Ljaji. Serbia finished second to last in Group I, with four points in a five-team group.
2018 World Cup
Slavoljub Muslin was appointed coach after the team failed to qualify for Euro 2016. Serbia was drawn in Group D for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, with Euro 2016 semifinalists Wales, Austria, Ireland, Georgia, and Moldova. They began their campaign with a 2-2 tie against Ireland at the Red Star Stadium before going on to win over Austria, Georgia, and Moldova.
Aleksandar Kolarov, Aleksandar Mitrovi, and Mijat Gainovi scored as Serbia defeated Moldova in Belgrade. This secured them first-place finish heading into their showdown with Ireland at the top of the group. Kolarov scored in the 55th minute to give them the victory. Serbia finished the qualifying campaign with a 1–0 home win against Georgia, and ended at the top of Group D and therefore qualified for the 2018 tournament.
Despite Serbia’s qualifying, Muslin was fired by the Football Association of Serbia due to disagreements over team selection.  Muslin was chastised for not inviting Sergej Milinkovi-Savi to participate in the ad, which provoked outrage in Serbia. After Muslin’s sacking, Mladen Krstaji took over as interim coach and led the team to the World Cup.
Serbia began their World Cup campaign against Costa Rica. Serbia won their first World Cup game in eight years thanks to Kolarov’s free kick in the second half. Serbia was eliminated in the group stage after losing 1-2 to Switzerland with a 90th-minute goal scored by Xherdan Shaqiri and 0-2 to Brazil.
2018-19 Nations League
Serbia began the campaign in the first Nations League, where they were put into Group 4 with Montenegro, Lithuania, and Romania, owing to their prior performance. Serbia finished first in the group, gaining a Euro 2020 play-off position and promotion to League B for the 2020-21 season after winning both games against Lithuania and Montenegro and drawing both games against Romania. Aleksandar Mitrovi finished the tournament as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals.
Mladen Krstaji was named Serbia’s permanent coach in December 2017.  Serbia began the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League season, which served as part of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying process.
Serbia was placed in Group B for Euro 2020 qualifiers, with Euro 2016 champions Portugal, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Luxembourg. Serbia began the qualifications with a 1-1 tie away to Portugal. However, in the following away game against Ukraine, Serbia was defeated 0-5. Krstaji was fired after a 4-1 home win against Lithuania, citing the defeat to Ukraine, and was replaced by Ljubia Tumbakovi. Tumbaković started with a 2–4 home loss against Portugal. The next two games were away wins against Luxembourg and Lithuania, before beating Luxembourg at home. Serbia could not take one of the top two places after the team managed a 2–2 draw to Ukraine at home.
Serbia was drawn to play Norway in the resumption of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs. Serbia defeated Norway 2-1, with one goal coming in extra time, to go to the last playoff game against Scotland at home.  Scotland won the game in a penalty shootout (5-4) after the game was tied 1-1 after regulation.  Serbia failed to qualify for the Euros yet again, marking 20 years since the country last competed in the tournament. Tumbakovi was fired as a result of the team’s failure to qualify for the tournament.
2022 World Cup
Serbia was placed in Group A of the FIFA World Cup qualification process, alongside Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan.
Ljubia Tumbakovi was fired after a penalty shootout loss to Scotland in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs and was replaced by Dragan Stojkovi.
Serbia began qualification in March 2021 with a 3-2 win over the Republic of Ireland in Belgrade. Serbia defeated Azerbaijan 2-1 in Baku after a 2-2 tie with Portugal. Because of the mixed results, Serbia needed to beat Portugal to advance from the group. Serbia faced Portugal at the Estádio da Luz on November 14, 2021, trailing by a goal. However, an equalizer by Duan Tadi and a decisive goal by Aleksandar Mitrovi in the final minutes of the second half guaranteed Serbia a ticket to Qatar. 
2023-23 Nations League
Serbia was drawn in Group 4 of the UEFA Nations League B for 2022-23, alongside Norway, Sweden, and Slovenia, and finished first and was promoted after victories over Sweden at home and Norway in Oslo.