EXCLUSIVE: Former Gold Coast United youngster Steven Lustica has jetted out of Australia to join Ljubo Milicevic at Hadjuk Split. We caught up with the 20 year old midfielder for an update on life.
How is life in Croatia treating you? Has it been much of a culture shock?!
Life in Croatia in fantastic, Split is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The people here are friendly and the club has done everything to make me feel at home.
The only culture shock is the football fans. They live and breath Hajduk, nothing else matters here.
How different is the Croatian league to the A-League? Both in the training and the actual games…
Training is totally different here. We have two sessions per day followed by a game in the evening. I know its pre season, however it’s not something I experienced in the A -League.
The intensity here is also much greater both in training and in games. There is very little spare time between sessions and resting is of great importance.
How much does the style of football vary between Balakov and Bleiberg? Has it affected the way you play?
Balakov was a world-class player and he is imposing that knowledge and style on us here at Hajduk. His philosophy is to play an attacking style of football, sometimes even playing with three attackers. Balakov has a calm manner in which he relates to us players without compromising his strict discipline. He has had a positive effect on me from day one. He encourages a passing game, which really suits me.
Gold Coast have lost a lot of their top players and will next season be relying on the core of their hugely successful NYL team, as a former member of that youth side, how do you see that working out for them?
Yes Gold Coast have lost a lot of experienced players, like Culina, Smeltz and Caravella, however we did have a tremendous Youth League side in the last two years.
Given the right opportunities and encouragement the NYL boys can step up to the next level I’m sure. They are a great bunch of lads and I really wish them all the best.
Is the Croatian League still just a stepping stone for you? Where do you harbour ambitions to play?
My ambitions are to be the best player I can. I only just got here. So I am not looking beyond Hajduk Split at this stage. I have a fantastic coach who has shown a lot of faith in me; it is now up to me to repay that faith.
You scored your debut goal for Hajduk in a friendly against Sloga Uskoplje recently, how did it feel?
Although only a friendly, my first goal for Hajduk Split was something special for me. It is the team I have followed since I was a little kid and I will never forget that goal. When I got back to the hotel I rang my dad immediately to tell him (it was 4am in Australia). He asked me why it took so long to ring? he had already received 50 SMS messages from friends telling him about the goal.
You have plenty of Australian youth representation under your belt, how long before a full Socceroos cap comes along?
That’s a difficult question. Obviously it depends on my development and how I perform at Hajduk Split. I must establish myself here and become a better player in order for that to be a possibility.
Is the 2014 Brazilian World Cup a target for you?
I have always set myself high goals throughout my football career. Playing in a World Cup was always the highest on my list. But for now my target is to play in front of a packed house here at Poljud Stadium in front of the best Fans in the world -Torcida. Until then nothing else matters.