Juric's teenage brother Deni signs for Hajduk Split

Fuelled by the dream of teaming up with brother Tomi in the green and gold one day, teenage striker Deni Juric has signed a dream two-year deal with Hajduk Split as he bids to follow the lead of his famous sibling.

Deni Juric

Deni Juric is paying attention to advice from his brother and Socceroos striker, Tomi Source: Supplied

The 18-year-old, who left Sydney aged 10 as his family retraced their roots to Croatia, is a two-footed striker who played his youth football at second tier NK Radnik Sesvete.

Deni is proud of the achievements of his brother but intent on surpassing him at some stage as his own career unfolds.

“It’s a dream come true for me to join such a big team with such great traditions,” said Juric of the club which was home to Australia great Josip Skoko for the best part of six years in two spells.

“I was called down to train with them, and they liked what they saw and I can’t wait to get started now.”

Older brother Tomi, 25, whose bond with Deni couldn’t be closer, once graciously said his younger brother was the one who possessed greater natural talent.

It’s a compliment from Swiss-based Tomi which Deni, who turns 19 on Saturday, savours.

“Yes, he did say that and maybe in one way it's right and in another it’s not. What can I say?” he said.

“Tomi’s somebody I have looked up to my whole life. He has always been there for me – just like the rest of my family – when I needed advice about something in life or in football.

“He’s number one for me, and I am happy for him to see him back in Australia now with the national team (preparing for the games against Iraq and UAE). It can’t be any better.”

Unless, that is, the day the super siblings share the same field for the national team at, let’s say, a world cup.

“Playing together for Australia is a dream we have both had all our lives and it’s something we have spoken a lot about it,” said Juric.

“It would be especially important for my father [Branko]. He’s been talking about the possibility for about 15 years now, and it would also be a dream come true for him.

“I think for all of us it would be the best feeling in the world.”

Juric, though, acknowledges he is only at the beginning of what he hopes will be a rewarding career.

“There’s a lot of hard work to be done, more than a lot,” he said. “There has been a lot of sacrifices already, a lot of giving up on stuff and being totally dedicated to football.”

Juric is well aware of Hajduk’s storied history as one of the powerhouse clubs of Croatia and, having recovered from a knee injury which plagued him for five months, is determined to stake a first team claim once he has reached peak physical condition.

“I am coming back from injury and for a few months I will be working with the first team squad on my fitness and maybe playing a few games for the ‘B’ team,” he explained.

“Then, as soon as I am ready and my fitness is back, 100 per cent I will be playing for the first team. If not for the injury who knows where I would be at this moment.

“But that’s behind me now and I am looking forward. The club has great facilities and is one of the biggest clubs, if not the biggest, in Croatia.

“The fans, the history of the club are just unbelievable. They missed out on the Europa league this year which is disappointing, but they will always be up there challenging for trophies in Croatia.”

While pointing out the similarities in his and Tomi’s games, Deni said he can play as a number 10 as well as a central striker.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s how they will line up for the Socceroos one day.

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4 min read
Published 31 August 2016 at 9:22am
By Dave Lewis