Marko Stankovic- The Footballer we know, The Man we don’t

After three seasons in the Isl, first with FC Pune City and then with Hyderabad FC, Marko Stankovic decided to call time on a career that has been successful to say the very least.

His last season as a professional did not go too well for him as well as for his team as they finished at the bottom of the table. Although he managed to scored two goals in fifteen matches, he was unable to have much impact on the team.

IFTWC recently had a conversation with Marko Stankovic on his career gone by and we managed to get the following stuff out of the Man.

On pursuing a career as a footballer, he said: “My father and grandfather were professional players in their time and later became well known coaches, so I was born as a footballer. It was all in my veins. Right from my childhood, there were only 2 things i used to do. Going to school and playing football in the rest of the time is the only way i spent my childhood.”

When asked how did he manage to land in India after spending most of his time in the Austrian Bundesliga, he told: “ The former FC Pune City manager Ranko Popovic approached me, I knew him personally as well, it took 2-3 months to fix up my mind and then it was an easy decision to come to India.”

On adapting to India and travelling so much throughout the tournament, he told: “Our country(Austria) is pretty small when compared to India. When i play in Austria, playing in away games is like travelling from Ranchi to Jamshedpur by bus but in India it’s really different. Although it’s not easy to adapt, but my journey in India has helped me to explore the country more but yes, the biggest challenge for me in India was the climate.”

When asked about how would he compare the two clubs he played for in India, he said : “ Hyderabad was a new club. It wasn’t yet ready to play in the Isl and we faced quite a few problems at Hyderabad. The club is still facing problems, so hopefully we will be better next year. As far as Pune is concerned, it was perfect from the very first day. “

Speaking on the sacking of Coach Phil Brown in the middle of the season, Stankovic said : ” It wasn’t his fault. He did a really good job. Phil is probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever played under but he was unlucky and it was sad that he had to leave that way. But that’s football for you. “

He also added that Albert Roca played little to no part in the management of the team last season. It was his assistant Xavi who made all the decisions.

Speaking about his best mate in India, he said : ” From the very first day, it was Marcelino. When i came to India, he helped me a lot in settling down. Although he is in Brazil while am in Austria, we are still in contact. So that’s the kind of bond we enjoy. “

Speaking on his experience of playing in the UEFA Champions League, he said : ” It was completely different to what i had ever experienced before. Playing in front of 60000 people was something else. When u enter the stadium and you have the Champions League stars, the balls and then the anthem, it’s something completely different. It’s like the best feeling in the world ever to play in a Champions League game and its the biggest achievement of my career. “

“The goal I scored in the Champions League qualifiers which took my team to the main round of the Champions League ( group stage) is probably the best goal I have ever scored. He added- “Just because of the occasion when the goal was scored, it turned out to be my best ever. It helped my team reach the Champions League and there’s no better feeling I’m the world.

Comparing India’s football with that of Austria, he said : ” The level in Austria is much higher. The physicality, technicality of players is much better in Austria. But we must remember that the Isl is a new league and in ten years from now, we can expect the level to be much better than it is currently. But patience must be kept in order to improve. “

Speaking on young Indian players, he said “The young players in India are very talented and hard working but not as technically adept as their European counterparts. In India, the young players need to be taught about the tactical and technical side of the game while it comes naturally to players in Europe.”

Speaking on how to improve the game here in India, Marco said : ” You have to improve the academies in India. Better academies with better infrastructure need to come up in order to attract more children towards the game. The Indian National Team players need to go abroad and compete with stronger players and stronger teams in order to improve their game. “

Talking about how to improve the Isl, he said “The very first thing that needs to happen is that the league must be longer as the players are playing for a maximum of 5 months and are training all alone in the remaining seven. So improving the duration of the league is the first and the most important step in order to improve the league.”

When asked if there’s any Indian player whom he thinks has the potential to go abroad and play, he said “Ashique is one player who has everything required to go and play. He has played with Ashique at Pune and knows his potential. He also had a training stint before at Villareal C and needs to go to foreign shores to improve his game. In my opinion, Ashique is the future captain of the National Team. Another player with massive potential is Liston Colaco. This guy is just incredible. I’ve never seen an Indian guy with the shot that he has. He definitely needs to go abroad and play there.”

When asked whether it’s better to go to foreign clubs and sit on the benches or get playing time here in India, Stanko said that nowhere in the world is playing time guaranteed. One must have the courage to go abroad and work hard in order to achieve success and thus, if an Indian player is getting an opportunity to go abroad, he should take it with both hands.

Speaking on the 3+1 rule, he said: “It’s a two way thing. While on one hand, foreigners improve the quality of the game but at the same time, it means less chances for young Indian players. So it is necessary to have the right balance. But five is a decent number. It should be either 4 or 5 but what needs to improve is the game time players need in the Isl and the Isl needs to have more games and that’s of paramount importance at the moment. “

Speaking on the refreeing in Isl, he said “It’s a very complicated issue. No one makes mistakes intentionally but it has a major impact on the game. What needs to be done is that the refrees need to be sent to Europe to improve their level. Also the pay should be much higher so that the refrees need not do any other jobs other than the one related to football.”

Talking about the possibility of VAR in Isl, he jokingly said that we would have a game of about 3 hours if VAR was to be implemented in the Isl. How much of a joke is that is anyone’s guess though.

Speaking about his early retirement from the game, he said ” Before the season, I had already decided that it was gonna be one of my last years. I’m involved in my business now and 34 is a decent age to retire if you have already achieved something in your career. Add to that, the last season was a really difficult one and thinking more about it, i came to the conclusion that it might just be the best time for me to call it a day and look more into my business. It was a hard decision because I’ve been playing for 17 years but I’m 100% sure that I’ll continue to be involved with football off the pitch in some way or the other. Maybe I’ll go into coaching but nothing’s decided as of now.”

When asked- Now that he has retired from the game, does he has any regrets from his career, he said “You never know what could have happened had I taken any other route. So I am pretty happy with the decisions I took in my career and how it panned out. So at the end of the day, I have no regrets.”

RAPID FIRE WITH STANKO

  1. Best team in Isl- FC GOA
  2. Best goalkeeper in Isl- GURPREET SINGH SANDHU
  3. Favourite Premier League Team- LIVERPOOL
  4. Favourite Club- REAL MADRID
  5. Favourite Indian Stadium- BALEWADI STADIUM
  6. Best player ever played with- MARCELINHO
  7. Best player ever played against- DIEGO COSTA
  8. Best Indian midfielder- MOHAMMAD YASIR
  9. Toughest opponent- GABI
  10. Toughest team- ATLETICO MADRID
  11. Toughest opponent in Isl- AHMED JAHOUH
  12. Favourite Indian food- CHEESE NAAN
  13. All time favourite player- FRANCESCO TOTTI
  14. Best Indian defender- ADIL KHAN
  15. Best moment in career- GETTING NATIONAL CALL UP/ SCORING IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

We wish you a happy retirement, Marco. Good luck for all your future endeavours.

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