Australia Protector Milos Degenek did not enjoy it world Cup debut, which probably shouldn’t be surprising considering that it came in a 4-1 loss to defending champion France on Tuesday evening. Indeed, despite a promising start as the Socceroos took a 1-0 lead, a final heavy margin and a short turnaround in the next game meant there was not much to savour.
The 28-year-old, however, probably wouldn’t feel much different if the Socceroos were able to maintain their one-goal chances, considering he says he never stops to enjoy any game he’s doing. They were played in their immediate aftermath, regardless of the occasion. There’s the immediate joy of victory, sure, but once the adrenaline wears off it takes a while for the feelings to return.
For example, Degenek did not taste beating liverpool 2-0 in pack out Champions League fixture at Rajko Mitić Stadium when he was with red star belgrade back in 2018. Instead, as the rest of the side entered the city to mark their important victory, he stayed at home to watch the fixture with his brother again.
“I didn’t enjoy that game,” Degenek said. “After that, I was not happy.”
It was only when Liverpool went on to win the entire tournament that Dzenek began to allow himself and his teammates to understand the magnitude of their achievement.
It all sounds a bit spartan; Denying the sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and gratitude that can come with periods of introspection and reflection.
But for Degenek, who is hoping to make his debut for his country with a high-stakes Tunisia On Saturdays, this self-imposed anhedonia goes a long way toward helping him maintain his “lion mindset.”
“The lion mentality is that you either eat or you are eaten,” he explained. “The easiest way to put it is… when we had a meeting with the boys. I said: ‘There’s bread on the table. Either we eat tonight – my kids, my wife and my family – or they eat ” , and my children and wife go to bed hungry.’
“I don’t want that to happen and I use that word – when that bread is on the table – I want to have it, I want to keep my wife and my kids happy.”
Born in Knin, the capital of an unrecognized Serbian proto-state in Croatia, Degenec’s family fled Belgrade when he was still a child during conflicts in the region, before finding refuge in Australia when he was six. Was seeking to take and receive.
Settling in Western Sydney, he later gained a place at the prestigious Westfields Sports High and Australian Institute of Sport programs as a teenager. His talent earned him a move to Europe and a German side. VfB Stuttgartwhere they played with Germany international Joshua Kimmich,
Throughout Europe – many with Red Star – East Asia, the Middle East and, currently, in the United States major league soccer‘s columbus crew Following this, as having previously made 39 appearances for Australia’s senior side after representing Serbia’s youth.
Indeed, it has been a long and winding road for Degenek, but he says it was during those early days in Germany, when his outlook on the future was much less promising than what it would eventually become, where his mindset was forged. .
“I was 16 when I went to Germany and my first experience was being dropped in the middle of Stuttgart and being taken an hour and a half to train in the freezing cold,” he said.
“It’s -8 degrees and I have two pairs of tracksuits and four jumpers because I didn’t have money to buy a winter jacket until my agent gave me one.
“People think you’re going to Europe to enjoy football, you’re going to be a professional and you’re going to make a lot of money. My first professional contract was $1000 a month. I wasn’t making big money.
“That’s where I learned the struggles and got that mindset where I thought to myself ‘I’m training with 20 other guys but I want to be the one who goes on to make it.’
“I can fortunately say that I am one of the ones who made it.”
Meeting Tunisia in the opening kickoff of Saturday’s action in Qatar, the stakes associated with the fixture will be very clear for every Socceroo who takes to the field at the Al Janoub Stadium.
Thanks to their heavy defeat against France, Graham Arnold’s side need to pick up at least one point from the competition to have any hopes of progressing to the round of 16 for just the second time in their country’s history.
Although a draw would keep them alive, given that Tunisia will face France in their final group stage game, a win could very well put Australia in the box seat heading into the final match day.
It appears that the stakes are high. At least they would be if one didn’t have Degenek’s lived experience and hard-won attitude.
“You say winning the match, you think it’s pressure. I told the boys the other day, it’s not pressure,” he said. “The pressure I am as an 18-month-old child running away from war. The pressure I am as a six-year-old child in the middle of a war.
“Pressure is not a game of football. Because you can win or lose but I don’t think anyone is going to die. It is not pressure.
“It’s just the joy of wanting to be better and wanting to say something to your grandparents and fans back home, when you can say you’ve won a game in the World Cup, you’re out of the group.”