New Stags signing: My old club scuppered Man City move
|GLOBAL FC||TAMPINES ROVERS|
Five-and-a-half years ago, Ivan Dzoni was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Kolo Toure and Wayne Bridge in training at English Premier League champions Manchester City.
Tomorrow, he is set to start for S.League side Tampines Rovers in their Asian Football Confederation Champions League play-off match against Philippine side Global FC in Manila.
But, speaking to The New Paper at a recent training session, 22-year-old Dzoni said he is looking forward to his adventure with the Stags.
"I received a call from my friend Marin (Vidosevic, former S.League defender) who told me Tampines Rovers in Singapore need a player," explained the 1.80m import, who can play in attacking midfield and upfront.
"I said: 'Why not?' It's a chance for me to explore a new environment and play in a new continent.
"I know not many players from Europe come to Asia at my age, but who knows? Maybe it will be good for me."
The former Croatia Under-17 captain was spotted by City scouts when he starred in the Uefa European U-17 Championship in March 2011 and was invited for trials at the Citizens' Elite Development Squad (EDS) five months later.
Dzoni said: "The experience was amazing; I trained with some senior players in the EDS like Emmanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge, Roque Santa Cruz and Kolo Toure.
"It was strange for the first few days because I had only ever seen them on TV before.
"But, after a while, you find out they are all really relaxed, very accepting and welcoming."
He scored once in their 3-0 win over Oldham Athletic in the Manchester Senior Cup and was told that City wanted him back when he turned 18 the following summer.
But, he claimed Hajduk Split, to whom he was contracted to, blocked the move.
"Hajduk rejected (City's offer), saying they wanted me to play first-team football that season," said Dzoni.
"I said okay, at least I would play. But 10 days later, they told me I was going out on loan."
He spent a season at second-tier Croatian side Cibalia and left Hajduk after making only two first-team appearances after that.
Since then, Dzoni has turned out for Croatian clubs Dugopolje and NK Rudes, and Slovakian side Banska Bystrica last year.
Dzoni still resents Hajduk for scuppering his City move.
He lamented: "I was very angry. It wasn't fair. Who knows? Maybe I could have secured my whole life (financially).
"I've always thought about what my life would be like if I went to City.
"But that door has closed. That story is over, I need to go forward."