Five minutes with: Sydney FC midfielder Milos Ninkovic

The Sky Blues star obviously loves his football, but there is also room for other sports in his life and he has become a fan of basketball's Sydney Kings and is warming to rugby league as well.

Milos Ninkovic

Milos Ninkovic Source: AAP

If you've moved to a new city and you don't know your way around, it helps to have friends who do. Milos Ninkovic, the favourite for the Johnny Warren Medal as best player in the A-League, has got all of that covered.

TWG: Sydney coach Graham Arnold tells us you're good to go in Saturday's semi-final against Perth Glory. How does your ankle feel almost two weeks on from that bad tackle against Newcastle Jets?

MN: It's much better, you know. I think I was lucky. I've trained the last few days, including a hard session on Wednesday. This is a very important game for us and I'll be able to give 100 per cent to win it.

TWG: The sort of player you are, using your skill to make things happen, you must have copped some bad tackles over the years.

MN: Yeah, look, I didn't expect it against Newcastle, but like I've said many times, this is football and you never know what's going to happen. But this is the past and I just want to be focused on the next game.

TWG: As good as you were for Sydney last season, you're clearly better this season. Why is that? Was it getting used to a new club, new players and new league?

MN: Yeah, I changed everything, even a new country, and sometimes you need a bit of time. This year it's much different because we signed some very good players and they're good people as well. 'Arnie' helped me a lot because he told me a few times last year 'this is something new for you, next year is going to be much better' and he was right.

TWG: I understand you're quite a religious person. Can you tell us about your faith?

MN: I'm Serbian Orthodox. We have fasting days on Wednesday and Friday, no meat and nothing from animals, no cheese, no eggs, and other periods of fasting during the year. Milos (Dimitrijevic) and I do it all the time, this type of fasting. I think all the people who believe in a religion, that's a good thing.

TWG: What are the most important things in life to you?

MN: For me, the most important thing is family. I already have two daughters and it's very important for me to show them how to be a good person. I want to be a good role model for them.

TWG: You were born on Christmas Day. That's not fair - people buy you one present and say it's for your birthday and Christmas!

MN: (Laughs) Yeah, that can happen, but Serbian people they celebrate Christmas on January 7. Then I played in France and they celebrate it on December 25. They were having a joke over there and saying I was like Jesus.

TWG: Where in the world have you been that you would love to go back to?

MN: I loved Kiev. I lived there for nine years while I was playing for Dynamo Kyiv and my eldest daughter was born there. But I have to be honest and say Sydney is the most beautiful city I've ever lived in. Unbelievable lifestyle here. But back to Kiev, I haven't been there for four years and I would like to go there again.

TWG: It's a beautiful autumn day in Sydney as I talk to you. How would you describe this place?

MN: I have many Serbian friends who have lived in Sydney for a long time and every time I'm with them they show me something new in this city. When you play professional football you don't have much time to see everything, but my friends have helped me there and in my second year here I still get really surprised by the beautiful places I see. For me, it's one of the best cities in the world.

TWG: What do you do to unwind and take your mind off football?

MN: When you're a professional footballer and you do all the training you do need time to rest, but I like to go to watch basketball. I'm a big fan of basketball and I've been a couple of times to watch Sydney Kings. I also watched the rugby. I didn't know much about it, rugby union or rugby league, I don't know really . . . No, it was rugby league, because the Sydney Roosters played against St George this week and I really enjoyed it. Now I know the rules better it's much interesting for me.

TWG: Were you at the game or watching on TV?

MN: I was at the game, I went with my friends from Serbia. That's what I mean about my Serbian friends, they're very good. They know things we can do and they arrange it.

TWG: When you're with your Australian teammates in the Sydney side and they're talking in that Australian way, maybe using a bit of slang, are you getting better at understanding them?

MN: I'm getting better, but still I have problems. Some players are really difficult to understand, with their accents. Even sometimes Milos (Dimitrijevic) says to me that he's still having the same problems and he's been here longer.

TWG: What would you rather win, the Johnny Warren Medal or the A-League championship?

MN: The A-League championship, because at the start of the season I don't go out to be the best player in the league, I go out to win the title with my teammates. The Johnny Warren Medal is awarded only for one player and the grand final is awarded for every player and would be for every person who works at Sydney FC and that's why I prefer the grand final.

TWG: Finally, you're off-contract, so when will you make a decision on your future?

MN: After the season, because right now we've got two very important games and I just want to be focused on that. I don't want to talk about my future, my contract, but after the season is over I'll sit down with people and discuss it.

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6 min read
Published 27 April 2017 at 11:37pm
By Greg Prichard