After a stint with Kidderminster in England’s lower leagues, former Sydney FC winger Robert Stambolziev is in Cyprus and looking to kick start his career again.
In March last year Stambolziev’s goal helped Sydney FC defeat the then current ACL champions, Guangzhou Evergrande, which were coached by Luiz Felip Scolari and featured $65 million man Jackson Martinez.
The winger played the majority of Sydney’s group games, helping the Sky Blues out of the ACL group stage for the first time in their history, but it wasn’t enough to survive Graham Arnold’s axe.
After Sydney were bundled out of the knockout stage in May, Stambolziev found oppurtunities hard to come by and spent time in the English Conference with Kidderminster before moving to Cyprus.
Unfortunately, a deal with first division team AE Zakakiou fell through, but since November, Stambolziev has been playing regular football with Cypriot second division side PAEEK.
And while the level may not be ideal, the 26-year-old is hoping doors will open when his short-term contract is up in March.
“As a footballer, you always strive for the best for yourself,” Stambolziev said “So, I always want to be playing in higher league anywhere that would be. But I can’t say I should be there and I should be here especially if you haven’t get the statistical performances to back it up.”
“But when you are playing regular football, and enjoying games and performing then other teams will take notice.”
After featuring in 22 games and scoring two goals during his 18-month stint with the Sky Blues, Stambolziev said he had no hard feelings toward his former employer.
“Obviously, you’re always disappointed when your contract is not renewed,” he said. “But I loved my time at Sydney FC. I’m still in touch with all the boys. While I’m here I’m still supporting them and it’s good to see how well they are doing now as a fan.
“At this point I’m not there but I support any decision they made and hopefully I could go back or I go on to better things and they do better things themselves.”
When he first broke onto the scene, Stambolziev was touted for big things.
He was only a teenager when he landed a contract with Portsmouth in the EPL and then signed with Greek giants Panathinaikos.
But while injuries and bad luck have cruelled the winger’s progress, Stambolziev refuses to give up and still believes he can play top flight football again.
“I’m still 26 I still feel I can do that,” he said. “At this moment, I just want to play. I haven’t played regular football for a while now so I just want to get my statistics up and just enjoy being out there on the field again and help my team to win.”