For those who follow Asian football the name of Aleksandar Duric has all but to sound familiar. The Singapore international veteran, who has over than 19 seasons of football on his shoulders, is actually the most prolific goalscorer of the world and one of the most feared strikers in the whole Southeast Asian region.
When did you start playing football and how did you manage to play in Singapore?
I started playing in the street with my friends like every kid in Yugoslavia, when I was 7. We played football everywhere, in the street, at school, all the time! Football is life for the country where I come from. My dad was a football player too but never played professional, only at amateur level. I was playing in West Adelaide in 1998 when I got a call from a Singapore team [Tanjong Pagar United] to come and play here, so I first went to the country in 1999.
What helped you most in becoming a professional footballer?
I became a professional player because of my love for this sport. I had a very difficult life when I was young as there was the war in my country, that I left with no money or future. But despite that nodoby really ever helped me with any contract with clubs, I work hard and train all the time and I think I’m a true professional footballer.
Which advice can you give all young boys in Singapore who dream of playing football?
They have only to work hard and never give up. Obviously they must love football because the passion is necessary, then they have to keep believing in themselves.
Are you generally satisfied of your career?
Not really, I’m sad that I didn’t have a shot to play in Europe. I think I could have had more success and more recognition for my achievements if I had played in Europe, but I am still happy for what I have achieved here and where I am now in my career.
What are your thoughts about football in Singapore? And about the S.League?
When I first came to Singapore I was very happy to play in the S.League, there were many talented players and the stardard of football was very high.
Unfortunately over the years this level has started going down because of the lack of support from sponsors, fans, and the football federation. The S.League is a very well organized competition but at the moment there are no enough money and support from government, we lost a lot of fans too recently.
Where should Singapore’s football improve most?
We should try to promote the game more to our youth here, it’s not so easy these days to make good footballers in Singapore as kids are not very keen on sports right now. We need to change it as they’re our future, they must dream of playing professional football.
Do you think there are some players in your country ready to play in Europe?
We have some really promising youngsters but the problem is that all boys must go to the army for two years and losing this amount of training is a huge trouble. But I hope to see one day some Singapore players trying they luck in Europe because I believe we have same good young talents, for example Hariss Harun.
Which is your best highlight with the national team?
My best highlight was when I started playing for Singapore national team in 2007, when I was 37 years old. I scored two goals in my first game, which was against Tajikistan. But of course one of my best moments was beating Malaysia at the World Cup qualifiers.
After hanging up your boots, what would you like to do?
I’d like to stay in football maybe as a coach or technical director. I want to try to find other players like me in Singapore in the next few years, it would be nice if I could coach kids to improve their football skills, they’re our future.