Plucked from the obscurity of the North American Indoor Soccer League on the eve of the 1992/93 season, Preki, as he was universally known, represented one of the more unusual pieces of transfer business in Goodison history. An entirely unknown quantity on his £100,000 arrival, he had helped Red Star Belgrade to a mid-1980s league title, before trying his luck in the United States.
Although a fringe player in a struggling Everton team, there were tantalising glimpses of the Yugoslav’s sublime footballing gifts. Boasting fabulous technical ability and imaginative passing, at his best he was reminiscent of Kevin Sheedy. His range of passing and fabulous freekicks were on a different plane to many of his team mates at a moribund Goodison. But all too often he laboured in poor teams, and lacked the pace or strength to thrive in the Premier League.
In July 1994, aged 31, he was sold to Portsmouth and spent a season on the south coast. He returned to the US for the onset of Major League Soccer in 1996. Now in the veteran part of his career, Preki experienced an incredible Indian summer that extended almost a decade. Twice he was named the MLS Most Valuable Player and twice he was the MLS Scoring Champion (based on a formula of assists and goals). In 2005, at the time of the MLS 10 year anniversary, he was named as part of its greatest XI.
In 1996, Preki took US citizenship and was called up to the its national team. He appeared for the US at the 1998 World Cup Finals, turning out, ironically, to face Yugoslavia.
In 2005, aged 42, Preki announced his retirement, scoring in the last minute of his last game for Kansas City Wizards. He subsequently turned to management and after succeeding Mike Bradley as Chivas manager in 2007 was awarded Manager of the Year in his debut season.