The captivating career of Ljubo Milicevic: A tale of dreams, heartbreak and above all vibes

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An Australian footballer that won't be forgotten any time soon

After a career that's weaved a captivating path from the highs of the UEFA Champions League to the gritty drama of an FFA Cup run with Charlestown, Ljubo Milicevic has officially called time on his playing days.

Bursting onto the scene with Perth Glory in the National Soccer League in 1999, Milicevic became the youngest ever player to score in an Australian football grand final and looked destined for bigger and better things.

But as would become a tragically familiar tale, a serious knee injury suffered in the first match of the 2001 World Youth Cup stalled things somewhat.

While moves to Europe would still follow, injuries seemed to stalk Milicevic wherever he went and as outsiders wonder what could have been, the man himself has found a profound level of acceptance when it comes to his career and the injuries he's had to deal with. 

"When you’re in that moment it’s the hardest thing ever to deal with," Milicevic told Goal .

"Completely heartbreaking, especially the timing of mine. You do your knee at the World Youth Cup, you do your groin qualifying for the Olympics… I did my knee first time playing for Victory, I did my calf quite badly within a pre-season playing for Hajduk Split and coming back to play in big and important games, but effectively without any training.

"All these moments happen for a reason, I don’t look back and try to justify were they good or bad, it just is. It’s a sum total of a dream I got to live. 

Ljubo Milicevic

"You don’t get to choose in this life all the time what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen, you’ve just got to accept it and carry on.

"I know some people can look at it and say without injuries at certain times it could have been a different picture, but I’m pretty happy with the picture I have in front of me."

A large part of that contentment resides in the fact Milicevic fulfilled a childhood dream of playing for Croatian giants Hajduk Split.

Putting pen to paper with the club in 2011, he admits that moment marked the beginning of the end of his career.

"To be honest…I really retired from football and giving it everything I had when I left Hajduk Split," Milicevic said.

"That was the last dream I had in football, to play for them. All my other dreams came true.

Ljubo Milicevic

"I played for Australia, I played professional football and that was the only one that I hadn’t done, that I wanted to do from when I first understood what football meant.

"After that I very easily could have walked away and I continued to play at different times because I love the game, but in my heart I effectively retired when I left Hajduk."

Though it can be viewed as an times tragic tale, Milicevic's career wasn't without a fairytale or two.

"As far as moments, playing for Australia and though I didn’t play, being part of the team that beat Uruguay on penalties," he said.

"Playing for Hajduk Split definitely. Getting a scholarship to go to the Australian Institute of Sport, that was the biggest realisation for a young kid that I could make it. That was huge.

"Playing Champions League in Europe and being part of the Basel side. All those moments stand out. The reality is I got to play a sport I love all over the world, that’s pretty cool."

 

Soooo.... with the new moon, full moon , lunar eclipse, blood moon etc : shit all going down of late... the last little while has been a trip to say the least... bizarre at times but always beautiful because that’s life... I’m living so I’m grateful ...whether it’s joy or sadness that I may be feeling ... “it shall all pass”.... and on that note... here I am.. sharing JOY on the football pitch with my team mates at @fcthun_aktuell celebrating a goal in front our coach who was both a bully and a dickhead...in true cheeky “KID” style haha the best memories of a life once lived... without further a due....IT’S OVER MY FRIENDS! As of now , I’m retiring from the national team @socceroos haha although I kind of did that long ago when I told certain people to fuck themselves ... I’m retiring from professional football haha well I did that a while ago too when I told certain people to fuck themselves and walked out on the last of my many contracts ... and now I’m walking away from it all... amateur ball too... it’s been a blast ... Thanks for being a part of it all... THE BEST VIBES 🔥❤️ AJDE JEBOTE

A post shared by Ljubo Milicevic (@ljubomilicevic) on

While eager to put the round ball away, it's clear the trials and tribulations of Milicevic's career have made him an invaluable figure for fellow Australian footballers.

Having had his body and mind tested over the past 20 years, the man Bondi locals now know simply as Ljubo has a simple but very significant message for those looking to follow in his footsteps. 

"Just to always believe in yourself," he said.

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"Before you go to Europe there’s always the doubt of a youngster of whether we’re good enough to play in Europe, just always believe.

"Irrespective of what parents, coaches, teammates, supporters, journalists, critics ever say - never stop believing."

Something no number of injuries or drama with coaches ever got in the way of for Ljubo Milicevic and his now trademark vibes. 

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