In the build up to what will be the Hyundai A-League’s biggest and best season ever, we will look to give you all the insights to how HAL clubs and players tick. This week Mile Sterjovski shares some insight on the Central Coast Mariners camp, his Socceroos career and much more! Before we get to the interview, we will break down just what Mile brings to the defending champions!
Mile is entering his final year as a professional, after being a vital part of the Mariners championship success last year. Looking to finish with a bang, going back-to-back with the Mariners would surely be a fitting end to his illustrious career.
Mile first graced the league in the 2009/2010 season, signing for Perth Glory as their marquee. He made the Glory instant title challengers, taking the West Australian club to the finals in all 3 of his seasons there. After a short stint in China, he signed for the Central Coast Mariners and was a part of the championship hoodoo ending team that beat the Wanderers 2-0 to lift the A-league title.
Sterjovski only managed 1 goal last season. However, his impact on the pitch and experience in the locker room was a vital element into pushing for the title. Expect more of the same this season, as the winger will look to add goals and silverware to his swansong year.
The Mariners have added Marcos Flores, and former striker Matt Simon – and with Daniel McBreen in the form of his life, they will certainly be at the top of the table yet again. Here’s what Sterjovski had to say –
Q) Mile, you’ve had a fantastic career both with the national team and playing in top divisions around the world. What would you define as the best year, season or moment in your career?
“I would say that the moment that I define to be my most memorable would be playing in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. It was always a dream of mine to play in a World Cup against the best in the world and that experience would have to be the most satisfying!”
That 2006 World Cup was special for all of us, but what Mile did next was just as special for the league. His return to the A-League started a trend of current Socceroos coming home to strengthen our competition.
Q) In 2009, you signed on with Perth Glory marking your return to Australia as their marquee player. Was there a certain amount of pressure you felt coming in with high expectations?
“Yes there was a bit of pressure but I put that kind of pressure on myself wherever I have played. I always want to do the best I can. I am proud of what we achieved at the Glory. Before I had arrived the Glory had not made the finals. In the 3 seasons I spent there we made the finals in all 3 reaching and the Grand Final in my final year (Although I did not play because I had moved to China just before).”
Sterjovski’s quality was missed in that final, with Perth controversially losing out to the Brisbane Roar. Sterjovski finally got his chance at A-League silverware the following season starting in the final against the Western Sydney Wanderers in a 2-0 win for the Mariners.
Q) Having won the A-League championship with the Mariners, what’s next? Personally, and also with the Mariners. Are we going to see a repeat?
“I will be playing for the Mariners in what will be my final year as a professional. Even though we lost quite a few players after last season I do believe we will be very competitive and our aim is to do the same as last year and win the Grand Final.”
With Sterjovski hanging up his boots at the end of the year, I wanted to know what he thought the A-League needed to do to continue building at the incredible pace it has in recent years.
Q) Now a multiple season veteran of the A-League, what do you think the league needs in order to grow? More signings like Alessandro Del Piero, or more fanatic supporters like the Western Sydney Wanderers had in their debut season?
“I think a bit of both! The quality of the A-League improves each season. I think it comes down to the quality of players coming to the league but also the quality of coaches we are developing. The league is very competitive now! It would also help if the fans would turn out for every club like they do for the Victory and Wanderers.”
Surely a player like Flores getting back into the top form he produced at Adelaide United will be a massive boost, I asked Mile just what he thought about his new Argentinian team mate.
Q) Marcos Flores has been brought in for next season, what are your thoughts on the charismatic playmaker?
“Marcos is a great guy and a very good player. He will bring his Argentinian flair and give us a different dimension!”
Q) Pedj Bojic has said that Bernie Ibini was “class clown” of the Mariners, leading the banter in the locker rooms. Would you agree with that?
“Not at all.. It has to be Daniel McBreen hands down!”
Daniel McBreen is certainly a role model for all players in the early 30’s, proving that it is never too late to hit a purple patch of form. You never know, Sterjovski could be the next player to do so under Graham Arnold.
Q) Growing up, or even during your professional career, which player did you model your game around or inspire to be more like?
“I didn’t really model my game around a certain player but I’ll name a few of the players that inspired me: Darko Pancev, Marco Van Basten, Gabriel Batistuta, John Markovski”.
With inspirations like those, you can see why Mile was a regular in the goals column throughout his career.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mile, not just for this interview but for many years of memories. I will be keeping an eye on Sterjovski all year and wish him the best for his last season. I am sure you will end your A-League career in style just as you started it!
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