Chance for redemption for Ljubo Milicevic

chad.zz.bennett Roar Rookie

By chad.zz.bennett, chad.zz.bennett is a Roar Rookie

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    Ljubo Milicevic ‘s move to Hajduk Split might not do much for his tarnished off-field reputation, but does give him the opportunity to let his football do the talking for once.

    Alongside little-known Gold Coast midfielder Steve Lustica, Milicevic was unveiled on a two-year deal and joins his boyhood club in their centenary season.

    It has been an ignominious exit from the Australian game for Ljubo.

    After beginning to establish himself as one of the premier defenders in the A-League at Newcastle, earning the captain’s armband, he quit the Jets midway through season six.

    In typical Ljubo fashion, his antics while supposedly sidelined with an ankle injury ensured he left in controversial circumstances, leaving to pursue one of the “three or four offers” he had received in Europe.

    The January deadline came and went, and Ljubo returned to play with South Melbourne, continuing tell an increasingly-disinterested football public of his European plans – while making his voice heard on plenty of other issues.

    Few on here would forget his ‘rant’ and subsequent comments little over a month ago, where he accused Australian football of an anti-ethnic bias.

    While he had some valid points, his sweeping generalisations and the manner in which he delivered them left a bad taste.

    It was an understatement to suggest that alienated himself from the Australian public, and after a mediocre five-game stint at South Melbourne the majority sniggered as Ljubo continued to remind us all that he was going to play in Europe.

    So it was highly surprising to see him wheeled out at a press conference on Wednesday in Croatia’s second-biggest city, Split.

    In joining Hajduk, who finished runners-up to Dinamo Zagreb last season, Milcevic has the chance to go from semi-professional state league football in Victoria to playing in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League.

    It would be an extraordinary turnaround in three months.

    No mean feat either, and it would be wrong to suggest that Ljubo is going to walk into first-team football, in fact, it will require him to perform at his best, and even it might not be good enough.

    But in a way, the planets have aligned for him; right club, right country, at the right age.

    It is his once-in-a-career opportunity, and Ljubo’s time to walk the walk is now.

    One of Ljubo’s favourite retorts is that he has captained FC Thun in the Champions League against Arsenal, and while these momentarily flashes have certainly been bright, they have also been fleeting.

    His achievements in Europe, and other highlights such as captaining his country should make him as one of the best defenders of his generation.

    Instead he risks ending a career unfulfilled, remembered for his outspoken ways off the field rather than as a quality player on it.

    Regardless of the outcome, he will most likely never be welcomed back with open arms into this country, but at 30, he has more than enough time on his side to resurrect his European career.

    It would be a shame to see one of Australia’s better talents of the past decade go to waste.

    Time to put up or shut up, Ljubo.

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • Roar Guru

      June 11th 2011 @ 8:43am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | June 11th 2011 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      Ljubo is one of the most technically-gifted and tactically astute footballers Australia has produced and I’m delighted his career has taken him to this Croatian powerhouse team.

      With Hajduk qualifying for the 2011/12 Europa League it will be a massive change from playing for Sth Melbourne in the VPL!

      I wish Ljubo the best of luck and, as chad.zz.bennett has said, it’s time for Ljubo to deliver and I have every confidence the big man will succeed.

    • Roar Guru

      June 11th 2011 @ 9:03am
      The Cattery said | June 11th 2011 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      Ljubo is returning to his ancestral and spiritual home, and judging by the sorts of things he has said right there on the Roar in recent months, I suspect his head will be in a better space.

      Being thousands of miles away from Muskie and Ernie, he should be able to make a good fist of it.

      good luck to Ljubo

    • June 11th 2011 @ 12:32pm
      Only one Joey Barton said | June 11th 2011 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

      Good luck to Ljubo, I hope he dominates. It will be interesting to see if they let him play in his favoured central midfield role..

    • June 11th 2011 @ 12:37pm
      MelbCro said | June 11th 2011 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

      Ljubo better keep his mouth shut at Hajduk, otherwise the Torcida will give him a good beating

    • June 11th 2011 @ 12:50pm
      Scarface said | June 11th 2011 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

      You had some mighty games at the Jets and at times entertaining off the feild as well Ljubo. Pity the team didnt stay together for the whole of last year. Hope it goes well for you in Europe.

    • June 11th 2011 @ 4:57pm
      BSG said | June 11th 2011 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

      From the beginning of the FFA there has been an obvious anti-ethnic bias in the sport which is disgrace

      • June 12th 2011 @ 3:34am
        David Heidelberg said | June 12th 2011 @ 3:34am | ! Report

        Yeah, it is a disgrace that there have been so few Socceroos of Croatian descent.

      • June 16th 2011 @ 11:40am
        Al said | June 16th 2011 @ 11:40am | ! Report

        Perhaps one should look at the behaviour of many of these ethnic groups (specifically, the Croats and Serbs) at the local level and during old NSL games before blaming the FFA for wanting to get rid of the ethnic tinged garbage that kept the sport down in this country for so long.

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