Duric and Tampines part company
Duric sad to part ways with Tampines but insists he can still contribute to local football
The big man may have left for Melbourne, but former Singapore striker Aleksandar Duric has not turned his back on his adopted country.
The 1.92m-tall former Tampines Rovers fitness coach was released by the Stags last week and swiftly flew to Australia, sparking speculation that he could follow the likes of naturalised footballers such as Mirko Grabovac and Egmar Goncalves and fly the coop.
But, in a phone interview with The New Paper yesterday, he said: "Don't worry, I'm not running away. I'm still coming back home.
"I'm in Melbourne to help my daughter Isabella Nina, who will turn 14 next year, to find a high school as it is too expensive in Singapore.
"My priority is still Singapore and I hope to find a job in Singapore when I go back next month after helping my daughter to settle down.
"Of course, I feel unappreciated and I'm not the only one to have been released from the club.
"A new chairman brings a new vision and this is football.
"I just hope somebody will see that I did something good for Singapore football and that I can still do a job.
"There's still a lot of good people in Singapore and I hope that I can find good prospective employers and the right people to work with."
Duric was born in Doboj, Yugoslavia, and had represented Bosnia and Herzegovina in canoeing at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona before he started his football career.
He had plied his trade in Australia from 1994 to 1999 before he signed for Tanjong Pagar United.
Duric went on to play for Singapore. Instead of being recruited under the Foreign Talent Scheme, he took three attempts before receiving Singapore citizenship in Sept 2007.
He made his international debut at the age of 37 years and 89 days against Tajikistan on Nov 9, 2007, scoring both goals in the 2-0 victory as the Lions made it to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers for the first time.
Duric would go on and score 24 international goals in 53 caps and was part of the winning team at the 2012 Suzuki Cup title.
Under former Tampines Rovers chairman Teo Hock Seng, Duric played five seasons for the Stags from 2010, leading the club to a hat-trick of S.League titles from 2011 to 2013 and winning the topscorer award in 2013.
After hanging up his boots last year, he became Tampines' fitness coach in the 2015 season.
But, with lawyer Krishna Ramachandra replacing Teo as Tampines chairman towards the end of this season, the Stags have undergone a revamp not just in the players' roster with three-quarter of the squad released, but also in the backroom.
Krishna told TNP yesterday: "As part of the club's revamp, we are making changes not just to the players, but also in terms of the coaching structure.
"It cannot be a case whereby a senior player who is highly respected can just go on to fill a slot in the backroom after he is finished playing.
"We are accountable to stakeholders and we want to ensure that people have the impetus to get the necessary qualifications. This may be a new club policy, but it is necessary to make the club leaner and meaner.
"Aleks has been a Tampines stalwart for many years and he has contributed to the success not just for our club, but also for the country in recent years and, while we have released him for now, we are not ruling out his return in the future."
Duric revealed that he is in the process of securing his Uefa "A" Licence, and should do so by May next year.
The 45-year-old said: "Life goes on. Football is like that around the world, and especially in football.
"I'm in the process of securing my coaching badges. I have been waiting for six months to complete the course in Germany because I was told they don't have quorum to do so and it's frustrating because it's no fault of mine and I have paid for the course in advance.
"My options are open now but I hope to stay in Singapore with my two sons, that's my first priority.
"But, if I can't find a job in Singapore, South-east Asia is so big and I do have a good reputation.
"I heard that my former Warriors teammate Therdsak Chaiman is now coach of Chonburi and former national fitness coach Sasha (Aleksandar Bozenko) is also there, so let's see if I can be of any help there as an assistant coach."
Despite being jobless, Duric will be in town for the launch of his autobiography on Jan 30.
He said: "It will not just be a book about football.
"It will be about my life growing up and the hard training that I had to go through to be good at what I was good at in different stages of my life, and how I was able to rise about the tough times.
"I hope that it will be an inspiration to everyone, not just people who are interested in football and sports."
"There’s still a lot of good people in Singapore and I hope that I can find good prospective employers and the right people to work with."
— Aleksandar Duric