Serbian International Milan “Lola” Smiljanic became Perth Glory's seventh off-season signing when he arrived from Israeli giants Maccabi Netanya F.C.
We sat down with him and asked him about his long term friendship with Nebo Marinkovic and found out what lured him to Perth Glory.
Welcome to Perth, tell me, in your own words, what attracted you to Perth Glory?
First of all I want to say thank you and hello to the people of Perth. I spoke to a lot of people about Australian football and from what I hear it’s growing rapidly. People have also told me that Perth are striving for the title this year and the way that I am, I want to win. I have only won a title with Partizan and I want to win titles in other countries, not just in Serbia. I am born to win.
Did the idea of playing alongside Nebo Marinkovic who you’ve known since a child and Diego Castro attract you to playing for the Glory?
Yes it did. I hope that having played before means that we can have a strong understanding on the pitch here at Perth. I’ve known Nebo since we were kids and we played together for many years at school and even played in the first team together back at Partizan. I played with Diego when he was the captain back at Sporting Gijon for six months so I know first-hand that he is a very good player. It’s always good when players have played together so hopefully that connection we have translates onto the pitch.
Nebo is called ‘The Specialist’ here in Perth because of his free kicks, did he have a good free kick on him back in Partizan?
All his life he has had a good free kick! When we were young, he scored a lot of goals and I hope that this year he can continue that. I know last year he didn’t score too may so hopefully he can improve on that this season.
Were you surprised to hear that Diego Castro was the best player in the A-league last season having played alongside with him?
No it’s not a surprise because I know he is a very attractive player, a great dribbler, has a good shot and also has a lot of experience from playing in La Liga. That sort of player can really help a team and hopefully he can continue that success from last year into this season.
Have you spoked to Nebo or Castro much before coming here to Perth?
Nebo told me a lot of things and I was surprised at how enthusiastic he was about the club. He told me that it’s a very good organisation, both on and off the field and that they were building a strong side to try and contend for the title this year and that was something I wanted to be a part of.
Nebo told me a good story about us having played against Andy Keogh when we were young against Ireland in Dublin. I don’t know him or remember this but I found it funny.
I didn’t know much about Australian football because I’ve played my whole career in Europe but Nebo talked highly of Perth and how it’s such a nice place to live so I am looking forward to my time here.
You were the second youngest captain in Partizan history, to lead the club for two years, how did that make you feel? It’s a lot of responsibility for such a young man.
It is a lot of responsibility but at the time I didn’t think about it too much as I was playing in the moment. The side was filled with a wealth of experience but they gave me the captaincy because I was young and I wanted to show everybody how much I loved the club.
The captaincy is something that, especially in Partizan, means a lot and for me, being captain at such a young age made me feel good. A lot of people looked at me as something special because I was only 18 and captaining such a great club. I was playing with a lot of players who were in the national team but I was their captain, even though I was young but I have strong character and all my life, I had played for Partizan and I showed that on the pitch.
You were looking for a new adventure that is why you came here?
As a player I’m always looking to improve and I feel that I can do that here in Perth. Nebo talked about how the club excels in all aspects, not just on the pitch and for me that is something that is really important.