No bad intentions in criticism of local football, says Duric

PHOTO: The New Paper

Singapore football is in "a very bad shape, the worst I've ever seen it".

It seems a damnation, but Aleksandar Duric chooses to look at that view from a different perspective.

For him, it is reality, an honest assessment borne out of a desperate desire to see the local game do well.

Duric's strong assessment is made in his autobiography Beyond Borders, in which the 45-year-old also criticised the Football Association of Singapore.

Excerpts of the former national striker's book, which will be available at local bookstores from Monday, are being exclusively serialised by The New Paper, starting today.

In describing the football scene here, the 45-year-old, in criticising the FAS, said that it "chooses short-term measures to try and paper over the cracks".

PASSIONATE

The Bosnian-born goal machine, who arrived in Singapore in 1999 and became a citizen in 2007, told TNP in an interview: "I've been a big part of Singapore football for so long, and I'll always be passionate about it.

"I'm sure everyone in the local football scene - coaches, players, fans - want the best for the game here and I'm no different.

"But I want people to know that my book isn't just about me talking about football.

"There are so many other things I share, like my childhood, war, my mother's death... So it's also a book for non-football fans."

Duric, who scored 24 goals in 53 games for Singapore, is currently unemployed, having left S.League club Tampines Rovers, where he was an assistant coach, at the end of last season.

He says he is not too worried about his current situation, as he believes he has plenty to offer to local football.

"When someone needs my help, I'm here," he said.

"Senior football, junior football, or with kids... I don't care.

"I will contribute in anyway I can, to whoever wants it."

Duric said he was apprehensive about doing a book, but was persuaded by those close to him to share his story as an inspiration to others.

In the 245-page autobiography, he shares stories of how he scavenged the rubbish dump with brother Milan at the age of 11, his experiences as a reluctant soldier in the Balkan war, and how he competed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as a canoeist.

Said Duric: "The process of writing the book was an emotional roller-coaster for me. There were lots of crying, believe me.

"Sometimes, after talking about these memories with Glenn (Wray, writer), I could not sleep at night.

LIFE LESSONS

"But this book is important to me. I want to show that sometimes, life can't stop you from what you want to be.

"A lot of the time, I was on my own, but I wanted so badly to reach my dreams, and I managed it."

Beyond Borders, priced at $25, will be available at all major bookstores from Monday.

This article was first published on January 23, 2016. Get The New Paper for more stories.