There is a famous saying from the old country: ‘Da padne na leđa, razbio bi nos’, which in English loosely translates to: ‘If he fell on his back, he would break his nose’.
Tomi Juric must’ve walked under his fair share of ladders, broken multiple mirrors and come across thousands of black cats in his 29 years on this earth. He had the potential to be one of Australia’s greatest ever strikers but his body has continually broken down over the course of his career.
Eyebrows were raised when Tomi completed a move to Adelaide United, after yet another injury-riddled European season – this time with Bulgarian powerhouse CSKA Sofia.
His agent had received minimal interest from A League clubs – who were weary of Tomi’s injury history, as well as his pay demands.
Director of football Bruce Djite started a charm offensive for his signature by using not only their friendship, but Juric’s love of the city – Adelaide is not a football fishbowl like its counterparts on the east coast, there are not as many eyes on players here and the laid-back lifestyle appeals to many.
Adelaide United was the club that gave Tomi his introduction to the A-League back in 2013. Even though he was not a local, the loyal fans soon dubbed him as one after they saw his dedication, work ethic and never say die attitude for the red shit.
Fast forward several years to 2020 and to have signed a player of this quality on such a small wage was a coup not only for Adelaide but the league itself – the fact Juric was concerned with wanting to play more regularly than choosing a lucrative deal with an overseas team is a testament to himself as well as Adelaide.
Coach Carl Veart had promised Juric he would be the No.9 and start every match when fit – the only issue was that Juric’s horror run with injuries continued this season.
He began the season carrying a calf injury that he was still unable to shake off by the end of the campaign – the club has begun an off-season independent review of the strength and conditioning team after Adelaide was the league’s leader in soft tissue injuries.
He cut a frustrated and forlorn figure at training multiple times this season.
While other players were engaging in full contact training, Juric spent many a session gently riding a bike and recovering with swimming pool sessions as his persistent soft tissue injuries were prohibitive in participating in too much more.
Tomi was playing on one leg this campaign and still boasted one of the best goals-to-minutes ratios of any striker this season – his nine goals is a very respectable return.
Imagine what he would’ve been capable of, had he been fully fit?
One of Adelaide’s key tasks for the off-season is trying to secure the former Socceroo on a longer contract.
This task has proved to be a lot harder with multiple clubs that were unwilling to take a risk prior to the season now wanting to sign him.
Macarthur FC have lodged a contract more than double what Adelaide has offered and there has been interest in Europe yet again for Tomi’s services after his successful season.
The next club that procures his signature will be aware of his European exploits in Croatia, Holland, Switzerland and Bulgaria; his success in Australia winning the Asian Champions Leaguel; and hoisting the Asian Cup with the national team.
Whichever club Tomi signs for will know on his day and when fit he is an absolute predator in the box.
The problem is due to his battered body those days don’t come around as often as he would like.