Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 | Last Update : 08:16 PM IST
Marko Stankovic’s transfer to FC Pune Ciy took place so swiftly that he was not even able to bid farewell to his seven-year-old son.
He was playing a friendly in Graz, Austria — two hours away from where his family lives in Leoben — and was due to return home, where his son was waiting for him. A quick succession of events has delayed that meeting with his son for a long period of three months.
FC Pune City’s new signing, Marko Stankovic, was approached to be signed in the final half of January and he has no second thoughts about coming to the Indian Super League. The only regret he has is not getting a chance to talk to his son about this move and make him understand. “I called him and I told him ‘Fabio, papa is going to India’ but he is too young to understand all this,” he says.
In the beginning of January, Mumbai City FC coach, Alexandre Guimaraes flashed a smile when he was asked about signing a player in the January transfer window. He was unaware of his neighbours doing quick business to sign the midfielder.
It was the Pune side’s coach Ranko Popovic who directly called Marko using the Serbian connection to lure him to his side. It was a matter of two days and he was ready to catch a flight. “My father had to return the car and house that the club had given me.”
“The coach (Popovic) called me. He played in the club where I was before. I think I was eight when he played for the club in the Champions League and I was a little guy fancying him. I had two years on my contract and then I spoke to the club and they were okay with it. Within a week we came to an agreement and I came here,” he narrates.
“I signed my contract and the same the day I drove to Vienna to make my visa. By the evening, I was already flying to Dubai and then to Mumbai,” he adds.
For a footballer, all these events are not unusual. Some transfers take place in a span of hours. What was hard for the Serbian was not getting a chance to meet his family.
“I spoke to my family and my girlfriend to see if the move is possible because my son goes to school and this is a big challenge for me too. And this experience and this adventure is something that will not come again,” he says.
“I stay awake at 1 am to speak with him (his son) and my family. It was really hard. I was in Graz and I called my girlfriend to tell her that I have to leave. She was busy with work and my son had school. So I had to just say goodbye to them over the phone. It’s just three months is what I say to myself,” he further adds.
After playing two games that include a win and a loss, he likes the Indian zest of football. Marko’s new teammates have made him feel at home.
“I am impressed with the Indian guys. They are all nice characters. I speak four languages, Italian, English, Serbian and German but Hindi is far beyond my reach,” he chuckles.
Pune have five games left and they are placed on number three on the table with 22 points. He has featured in the two games after his signing and has dwelled quite well into the side. The orange and purple brigade is having one of its best seasons as compared to the previous editions. Marko will hope to lift the trophy so that he can show it to his son.