Darko Pancev nicknamed Kobra, born in Skopje on September 7th 1965, is a retired Macedonian footballer and winner of the Golden Boot award in 1991. Pancev was the highest scorer in top-division European football in the season 1990–91 with 34 goals, and should have won the European Golden Boot award. Since UEFA decided to make the competition unofficial for the season because of suspect scoring sprees in Cyprus, Pancev did not get the prize at the time, but received it fifteen years later on August 3rd 2006 in Skopje. The Golden Boot was presented at a special gala by Michel Platini, Dragan Stojkovic and Dragan Dzajic.
Pancev started his playing career in 1982 at the football club “Vardar Skopje” where he quickly developed into one of the most feared strikers in the Yugoslav First League, becoming league top scorer in the season 1983–84. The skill and seeming ease of his goal scoring exploits in Skopje made him a target for bigger Yugoslav clubs.
During summer 1988, Pancev was snapped up by “Red Star Belgrade”, which beat cross-town rivals FK “Partizan” to the signature of Pancev then 22. He debuted for his new club in 1989 and played three full seasons scoring an incredible 84 goals from 91 league appearances, and winning the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup in 1991.
During the early 1990s he was recognized as one of the best strikers in the world, displaying great goalscoring instincts and predatory skills, so he got nicknamed Kobra by the Serbian sports media.
In summer 1992 Pancev (then 26) was signed by “Internazionale” in a high profile transfer with the 14 billion ITL (7 million £) fee paid to “Red Star”. Head coach Bagnoli reproached the player for lack of movement and his performances were nowhere near the expectations so his relationship with Bagnoli took a turn for the worse, as Italian press got down on the striker too. During his debut season, Pancev appeared in just twelve league matches scoring one league goal in addition to four goals in five Coppa Italia appearances. He remained in Inter for the season 1993-94, although he was completely out of the first-team picture.
In January 1994, during the winter break, Pancev got loaned out to German team “VfB Leipzig” where he scored two goals in ten matches during Bundesliga spring half-season. He returned to San Siro following a six-month loan but due to subsequent loss of form and injuries he made the total of only seven league appearances during the campaign. During the summer 1995 transfer window, Pancev got offloaded to “Fortuna Düsseldorf”. He ended his playing career to Swiss team “Sion” in 1997.
Pncev played in 1990 World Cup for Yugoslavia and scored two goals in the 4–1 win over the UAE in the first round. It proved to be the only ainternational tournament he played in, due to the ban on Yugoslavia participating in Euro 1992 because of the war in Bosnia at the time, although by the end of the European qualifying group stages, he was the top marksman on the continent with ten goals for the group qualifying stage. He played in the first ever official match of Macedonia, played on October 13, 1993, against Slovenia.
In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Macedonia by the Football Federation of the Republic of Macedonia as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.
After retiring from playing, Pancev worked with the Football Federation of Macedonia. In July 2006, Pancev was named the sporting director of Vardar. He lives in his hometown with wife singer Maja Grozdanovska and two daughters Nadica and Marija. In 2013 Italian punk band “ProsTaTito” dedicated the song "Darko Pancev" to the Macedonian footballer.