Jesic loving life
Newcastle Jets' teenage striker Marko Jesic has had a meteoric rise this season.
Newcastle Jets' teenage striker Marko Jesic has had a meteoric rise this season and if he has his way it will just be the start of an illustrious career.
Recovering from a serious knee injury in the off-season 19-year-old Jesic has secured an A-League contract, scored a goal on his A-League starting debut and forced his way into the Australian Under 20's squad.
"It has been a pretty exciting season for me," says Jesic after Jets training. "At the start of the season I had an injury and I was doing my rehab and then in Round Two I got a bit of a taste of the A-League when I was in the squad to face Perth. Then I got a chance for 20 minutes, scored a goal and since then I have been a regular starter in the squad."
That goal was a spectacular swinging volley that gave the Jets their best win this season, a 1-0 home victory over Melbourne. It was a pivotal moment in the youngster's career as he was selected in the national Under 20's squad the next day, and the moment still seems suspended in time for Jesic.
"It is hard to explain. I still can't believe I have scored in the A-League and especially on my starting debut," he says earnestly. "It still hasn't sunk in yet, it doesn't seem real.
"It was a bit of a surprise to get a call up into the Australian Under 20's squad. It was just after I had played my first full game in the A-League and had scored a goal and then I got a call up into the national squad which left the next day."
"In a way it was good - I was happy that I got called up but in a way it was bad because I had just got my start in the A-League to be going away with the Under 20's it kind of ruined the rhythm I had built up in the A-League and when I came back it took me a couple of weeks to get back into the flow again."
Jesic reckons the representative drain on the Jets it is the main reason why the Newcastle team has failed to impress in its Championship defence this season.
"It has affected the whole squad with guys like Jason Naidovski, Jason Hoffman, James Holland and Ben Kantarovski in both the Under 17s and Under 20s. It is a good achievement but it does disrupt the training and the plans for matches. It has made it very tough on Gary (van Egmond). But that is the life in football."
"My long term goal was to be playing in the Youth League and by November try to win an A-League contract with the Jets. I have done that now but it has been at heartbreak for Jason Hoffman with a knee injury, the same injury that I have twice and I knew exactly what he is going through but at the same time his and news is my good news - I got a chance at the A-League and I have taken it with both hands."
Jesic admits that it has been a steep learning curve this season at the Jets but enthuses the experiences have made him a better person and a better player.
"We have a good time at training but when it is time to knuckle down they have taught me to focus on the job," he says of his mentors at Newcastle.
"The first game against Melbourne the older guys gave me some advice on what it was like to play against Kevin Muscat. And it helped in the game and I knew what to expect from Kevin and that is exactly what happened. They told me what type of player he would be on the field that he would be in your ear but not to bite back because once you bite back that is just what he wants and he will keep going."
"Guys like Jade (North) and Joel (Griffiths) and Matt Thompson and even Tarek Elrich, even though he is not an older guy he has heaps of experience. Before the game they were just telling me to relax and play my normal game."
"They have taught me how to be a professional football player both on and off the field. Just about eating the right stuff, which I learnt about that when I was at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, but the older guys, who are still climbing to the top of the game, have taught me how to put it into practice. And on and off the field I am like a different player now."
Last week, Jesic shared the reality of a long-held dream when he partner long-time friend and current flat-mate Jason Naidovski up front in the Jets forward line against Adelaide United, and helped scored the Jets a 1-1 draw.
"I have known Jason since I was 11 and when used to play in the Premier League in NSW with Marconi and since then we have been at the same stage, same institutes in the NSW Institute of Sport and AIS and we have formed a pretty good combination."
"He knows the way I play and I know the way he plays and it wasn't too difficult to play in the game. It was great to see Jason get a start in the A-League and he did really well in the game."
And while the confident youngster 'can't wait to play each game' with the Jets he admits he will be looking overseas to fulfill his footballing dream.
"I have signed with the Jets until the end of May so I get to play the first stage of the Asian Champions League - it is another thing I can put down on my resume," he says.
"In the long term my goal would be to go overseas - but I have to find the right time to go. At the moment I am loving Newcastle - the lifestyle and the team and I would like to stay but I would like to see what is out there."