Aleksandar Mitrovic admitted that scoring Serbia’s winner in Portugal to secure World Cup qualification was ‘the best day of my football career for sure’.
The Fulham striker told FFCTV that the emotion of his extraordinary achievement and what it means for his homeland is still with him even days afterwards:
“It was an amazing night. The best day of my football career for sure and a big night for the whole country. It was amazing and something that hasn’t happened for a long time. It is a dream come true. I still feel the buzz – you kind of don’t believe what happened. To beat Portugal away – they don’t lose at home in seven or eight years – to win the game in the way that we win, we were dominant in every aspect of the game. I’ve been in the World Cup before but the way that we played in this qualification, the way that we earned qualification was amazing. To be honest, in Serbia the feeling is like we won the World Cup now!
Mitrovic also reflected on the turnaround almost a year to the day since his penalty shoot-out miss against Scotland meant Serbia missed out on a place at the European Championships. He spoke of his pride at how he has recovered from a difficult year for both club and country.
“It is exactly one year. It has been an amazing year. Football again proves us wrong and that’s life. Through life and in your career, you have some tough periods. You decide how it is going to be: you are going to give up, or keep going and keep working hard. I never give up, it was a tough year for me not just internationally but at club level, I keep my head up, keep working hard, never give up and this year is payback. It is an amazing year. I am really proud that I keep going and that everything now is like a dream.”
The Fulham centre forward revealed that his club head coach, Marco Silva, was at the Estadio de Luz, but had left before Mitrovic dramatically denied Portugal automatic qualification.
They sing the song as well. It was a couple of thousand people, 60,000 Portuguese fans and they were more noisy than the Portuguese fans. They are amazing fans, they follow us everywhere we go. It was amazing to have fans there, to hear them keep pushing us and it was an amazing night for all of us.
“He was at the game. He told me he left the stadium a little bit before the goal because of the traffic. He’s calm. We speak a little bit more about how we saw the game – everybody saw that we were better and we deserved to win. We speak a little bit, but it is new challenges ahead and we have to focus on Saturday.”
A modest Mitrovic reaffirmed his pleasure at his own remarkable goalscoring exploits – he has scored 20 goals in seventeen league appearances so far this season – but insisted Fulham’s league position remains the most important thing.
I’m happy. I’m doing my job and everybody around me is doing their job and that makes it easier for me. I have good players around me who are trying to find me every second on the pitch. I have do my job, to be focused and I know the chances will come so when the chance comes I have to be focused to put the ball in the net. If the team plays well, creating chances the goals will come. We are playing good offensive football, we have a good manager who wants to dominate every game, we want to create chances and score goals. We have scored so many goals as well so I think I am scoring goals this is just the reward for the hard work, dedication and time that we put it in as a team during training sessions.
The Serbian striker reiterated that Fulham’s fine form in October will count for nothing if they don’t continue to perform well after the international break.
“We have to continue like this, to be honest. We have two home games now, some tough games and a tough period with a lot of games in a short period. We want to keep winning games and in the Championship we don’t have any time to celebrate. We have to keep going, have the right mentality and that is what we are trying to do. There are no easy games. We have to be 100%. Barnsley is a tough team for us, last time we were in the Championship they gave us a hard time. We are ready, we know what to expect and we want to win that game.”