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At the end of my second year at Sibenik I had a few offers because I was playing for a national team. One was from a strong club in Ukraine and another was from Steaua Bucuresti in Romania.


I spoke to dad and he said, ‘Listen, do you want to chase money or do you want to succeed in football?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve stuck it out in Croatia for six years only due to football, not money,’ and he said, ‘If you go Steaua you’re going to tick those boxes you’re dreaming of.’


‘Done,’ I said.


I signed for Steaua and we went straight to Austria for a pre-season camp. It wasn’t until we got back that I realised just how big this club was. We played a friendly and just seeing the fans and how crazy it was, I thought, ‘OK, this is not like Sibenik.’ We barely got 500 people to the stadium there.


This was full on. Steaua was a club with a long history of success. They had won the European Cup in the 1980s.


My first official game was a Champions League qualifier. We lost, but I played pretty well and after we won our first game since I arrived the owner, who didn’t speak much English, shook my hand, gave me a hug and said, ‘Welcome.’


I was like, ‘What was that?’ and all the boys said, ‘Man, that’s big, he doesn’t do that.’


I was where I wanted and needed to be. We ended up qualifying for the Europa League. I got to play against big teams. I was ticking the boxes.


I didn’t have time to lift my head up because we had a game every three or four days virtually and when I wasn’t playing club football I was playing for Macedonia. In the space of four months I lost count of how many games I played, but I know I played well.


Then I broke my ankle. Playing one cold winter’s night I got fouled, my foot got caught in the turf and crack. I was shattered. I’d had a few injuries, but nothing like this.


I pushed hard to get back as soon as I could and even harder when I knew we were going to be playing Chelsea in the Europa League in the knockout stages. But I wasn’t ready.


I flew to London with the boys and watched as we were 45 minutes away from knocking Chelsea out. We’d won 1-0 at home and were leading 1-0 away before Fernando Torres, John Terry and Frank Lampard scored and they beat us 3-2 on aggregate. They went on to win the tournament.


That year we won the league five weeks before the end of the season. It was an amazing time, so special.





After I started playing again I was still having trouble with my leg. You want to do the same things you did before, but you can’t straight away. I came back too early, but now I just had to keep going.


We qualified for the Champions League and before a game I did an interview and the guy asked me, ‘What does it mean to you?’


I stopped and thought about it and then I said, ‘Well, when I was a kid I used to wake up at 4.30am and watch the games. I didn’t care who was playing, but my ring-tone is the Champions League theme song. This is a really big thing for me.’


I didn’t realise just how big until that moment. It gave me goose bumps watching it as a 14-year-old and to actually be playing in it 10 years later . . . it still gives me goose bumps to think about it now. I’ll never forget it.


We didn’t do too well in a strong group that included Chelsea, but it was a hell of an experience.


But, football being football, something else happened. Halfway through my second season at Steaua the owner was sent to jail. He had a lot money and power and ended up doing some stupid stuff, mostly away from football.


He loved my work and the fact that as an Australian kid I was just running and going 100 per cent and having fun and doing the job very well, but then it went from that to him apparently not liking me anymore.


I don’t know who was telling him stuff while he was in jail, but he must have been getting the wrong idea about something.


The club started dicking me around and were hardly playing me. Then a club in Russia wanted me and Steaua said, ‘No, we want to keep him, we want him to do his rehab, we want to win the league with him.’


It would come to game day and I’d be the 19th man and not told why I wasn’t playing. I didn’t get paid either. Everyone got paid except me.


I’d ask about money and they just kept pointing to the owner and he was in jail.  I couldn’t go and speak to him – I didn’t even know the language.


There was something more to it than meets the eye, but I never found out what.


Then, after playing for 10 minutes in four months, they gave me a run and three days later, when I obviously wasn’t ready, they made me start in the Romanian Cup final. Then they took me off in the 44th minute. Not at halftime – the 44th minute.


It’s the Romanian Cup final. It’s the biggest slap in the face you can get. It’s them saying, ‘You can leave now.’


I ended up getting paid most of my money. Clubs can’t play Champions League if they owe players money, so they had to pay me and have me sign off on it.


I had a meeting with them and said this is what I’m owed, including bonuses. They said, ‘You can’t prove the bonuses,’ so I got none of that.


But I got the rest. I refused to sign anything until I saw the money in my account. I left the club, got something to eat and 20 minutes later I checked and the money had gone through.


They just didn’t want to pay me unless they had to.


Daniel in SuperCupa 2013 .

Posted by Daniel Georgievski on Friday, 11 July 2014




It looked like there was going to be an opportunity for me to play in Germany after that, but it didn’t work out and then I got a call out of the blue from an agent asking if I wanted to come back to Australia and play for Melbourne Victory in the A-League.


I didn’t know much about the competition. It hadn’t started by the time I left Australia. So I called my dad and said, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘Have you done what you wanted to do over there?’ I told him I’d like to keep doing it, but that, yeah, I’d pretty much satisfied myself.


Trying to play in the Asian Champions League seemed like a good idea, a new challenge, and Victory was a big club. So I came home.


I’m glad I did, or I wouldn’t have met Emily through friends in Melbourne. Marrying her will be bigger than anything I’ve done or will do in football. You can only play football for so long. Marriage is for life.


I ticked all the boxes I wanted to tick after I flew out of Sydney as an 18-year-old kid taking a chance on life as a footballer in Europe. I won club titles, I played Champions League and Europa League, I represented Macedonia, I met a lot of great people and I travelled the world.


I’ve won titles with Victory and now I’m part of a revival under Ernie Merrick at Newcastle Jets. These are exciting times.


I consider myself a winner, but I don’t brag about it. I just do my job as well as I can and if we win a title I make sure I enjoy it.


When we won the league in my first year at Steaua, we were paraded on a double-decker bus in the middle of Bucharest. There were about 100,000 fans there. The champagne was flowing and I threw my jersey and shorts into the crowd. Everything but my underwear.


Someone took a photo and my mum wasn’t too happy when she saw it. But what do you do?


‘Sorry mum, but we were champions!’


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