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Paid Their Dues: Paunović and Serbia win U-20 World Cup

The ex-Philadelphia Union striker and current Serbia U-20 manager is now a World Cup champion.

Phil Walter/Getty Images

The Serbian U-20's defeated the Brazilian U-20's 2-1 earlier this morning to win the U-20 World Cup. Nemjana Maksimovic's goal in the 118th sealed the fate of the Brazilians, who hadn't conceded a goal since the seventh minute of their match against Hungary in the second match of the group stage. Stanisa Mandic broke the streak in the 70th minute, only to have Andreas Pereira respond three minutes later. Maksimovic though would prove to be the hero for Serbia:

Former Philadelphia Union striker Veljko Paunovic is the manager of the Serbian U-20 team, taking up the reins upon his retirement from playing in 2011. This is the Serbian U-20's second World Cup championship - the Yugoslavian U-20's won the FIFA World Youth Championship back in 1987 when they defeated West Germany 5-4 in penalties.

Paunovic talked to VICE Sports about what winning the U-20 World Cup would mean to Serbia.

"After what we have lived through over the last twenty years, this is a rebirth of Serbian football—and of the Serbian nation," Paunovic told VICE Sport.

"We feel like what have done a lot for the country [at the U-20 World Cup], and we see now is the people of Serbia have finally got united around the football. Football is a great platform to send a message, and the message we send to out country and to the world is about unity. It is about team – together we can do great things.

"This is what we need for our country," Paunovic added.

Paunovic was always a legend to us. Now he's a legend to his country and to the world.