|By MICHAEL HUGUENIN
Melbourne Victory utility Spase Dilevski believes young players in the A-League are "lucky" to have a quality competition to prove themselves and warned against leaving Australia too soon.
With the likes of Tom Rogic and Mat Ryan of Central Coast Mariners seemingly set on leaving Australia, Dilevski has argued young players need to take full advantage of what the A-League can offer them, rather than jump at the first opportunity to play abroad.
Dilevski, who left Australia as a 16-year-old to join PSV Eindhoven's youth academy, also spent time with Tottenham's development squads but has revealed he would have built a career in the A-League first if it had been around when he was a teenager.
"I probably went [to Europe] too young. I went when I was 16. I think that was the timing back then with the old NSL just about to finish," Dilevski said at Victory training on Thursday.
"I think 19, 20 is a good age to go over [to Europe].
"If I could do it again I'd probably do it like that; have a few good seasons in the A-League and, yeah, I think the kids are lucky these days... they're lucky to have a league like this.
"[It's] so competitive, so good, so even, and if you can show your talent and do well here there's every chance in the world they'll succeed overseas."
Dilevski's career has, at times, appeared disjointed, having never made a senior appearance at PSV Eindhoven or Tottenham, with the 27-year-old's most successful stint abroad at Universitatea Craiova in Romania.
Based on Dilevski's recommendation, Michael Marrone, who played almost 90 A-League matches with Adelaide United and Melbourne Heart before flying to China this week in an effort to join a club there, has proceeded down the right path, gaining experience before testing himself abroad.
Dilevski is now in his second stint in the A-League, having played the first two seasons with Queensland Roar, and he is stunned by the evolution of the competition.
"It's improved, I don't know, unrealistically almost," Dilevski said.
"It's unbelievable how quick and fit [the players are], just tactics-wise and game-play has improved so much.
"I went through the youth ranks in Holland and in England... and went to Romania, which I would say is a very similar level to the A-League and [the game in Australia] has just improved so much and it's only going forward."