32-year-old Serbian defender Marko Prljevic scored two goals in the current Armenian Cup, hitting the gates of West Armenia and Ararat-Armenia. The experienced footballer has been playing for Shirak in the Armenian Championship since 2016, and before the start of this season, he moved to Ararat. During all this time, he scored only two goals too. We started a conversation with Marko Prljevic about his goals scored․
TWO GOALS? I WOULD BETTER TO SCORE TO NOAH
- Yes, I am very glad that I scored two goals in the last cup matches. The previous two goals in Armenia, with Shirak, I scored against Ararat (smiling). I am glad that my first goal helped the team advance to the next round, and this goal created good opportunities to advance to the final. But I would be much happier if I could score against Noah in the championship game. I had a good chance when the score was 2:2, but the shot failed. Of course, after scoring a goal you are in a good mood, I hope I will score more goals by the end of the season, but the most important thing in football is team success.
- Despite the advantage against Ararat-Armenia everything will be decided in the return match. What are the expectations?
- Of course, nothing has been decided yet. We ourselves lost to West Armenia in the previous round with the same score but managed to get back. Anything is possible in football. We must prepare, act, and not think we have an advantage.
- What do you expect from the rest of the season?
- We have a very busy schedule because the coronavirus messed things up. We are fighting for two titles and we hope to win at least one of them.
- How does defense cooperation work, where experienced Mkoyan, Spanish-speaking players, Zhirayr Margaryan, Ivan Spichka from Ukraine play?
- Until the last two matches, we conceded only seven goals, which indicates a good defense of the team. Maybe due to lack of concentration or fatigue in the last two games, this happened. However, we have very good players in all positions, in the absence of one player, the other one ready to replace him, and this is very good for the team.
MORE OUR PARENTS WERE CONCERNED ABOUT THE BOMBING
- Let's talk about the first steps in your football career. You were born in Uzice. What were the conditions for young footballers in Serbia in the 90s?
- Yes, my first steps were taken at the SlobodaUzice, where Nemanja Matic trained. The conditions were not very good, I had to train not in the main field, but somewhere outside the city. But now everything is in order, there are fields with artificial turf, it is easier for teenagers to play football. But at that age you don't think about such things, only you play football with pleasure and love anywhere.
- Were you also the tallest at that age?
- Yes, I have always been a tallboy. I played in several positions. At first, I was a center-back, then a striker, then a defensive midfielder.
- Basketball is very popular in Serbia. Have you thought about taking up these sports?
- Yes, many people play basketball there, I played very well at a younger age. But I loved football more and chose this sport. I still play in my free time. People do not play much basketball in Armenia, as I noticed.
- It is known that in 1999, during the war in Yugoslavia, the city of Uzice was bombed. Were you in Uzice at that time? What memories do you have?
- Yes, I was in Uzice, we moved to Belgrade only in 2002 for my father's work. I remember it was terrible, we had to hide all the time, but our parents were more afraid for us because we were little and did not understand the seriousness of the situation.
FROM THE THIRD LEAGUE TO THE SERBIAN SUPERLIGA
- How did you get to the strongest championship in Serbia?
- I have changed several clubs in the lower divisions. I was with Radnicki's Big Bull, then Indgia, then returned to Big Bull, then moved to Donji Srem, which played in the third division. At first, we were able to move up to the second division, then to the top group. I was the captain of the team, it was a very good period in my career.
- Serbian fans are famous all over the world. You probably miss playing games in such an atmosphere.
- There were few fans in our club, because we represented the village, it was a big celebration for this village when we played with big clubs such as Partizan and Crvena Zvezda. Then I moved to the "Rad" club, which had active fans, with whose support it was very pleasant to play.
- In the 90s, the Balkans were also known for the mafia and criminal life. Did it affect you or not? And when did you first taste the rakia?
- No, my father worked in the police, he kept us away from such things. I was very young, but now everything is settled, there is no such thing. I didn’t abuse rakia either, but I tried it for the first time at the age of 14-15, in high school (smiles).
THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
- What did you know about Armenia before moving here?
- I knew, but not very much. Here I noticed that these two peoples have a lot in common. We fought with blood and heart for our country. We are Orthodox, in this sense, we are very similar.
- When you moved to Shirak in 2016, did you think that you would stay in Armenia for so long?
- No, to be honest, I did not plan to stay here for so long, but you never know how life will turn out. I feel at home here. The biggest disappointment was at the end of the 2017/18 season when the championship title was taken from us. We, the players, were devoted to our work on the field, did not spare ourselves, but everything was decided outside the field, and this is very insulting. Our players knew nothing about what was happening.
After that, I played for a short time in Bulgaria, then they called me back, given the family atmosphere in the team, I returned. And the best moment was to win the cup and play matches in European cups, which is very important for a football player. If you don't play for some of Serbia's top clubs, you can't think of European cups.
Football here is gradually progressing, new clubs appear, everything rises to a new level, so I am happy in Armenia.
- In social media, there are many photos showing Serbs from different Armenian clubs. Can we say that a small Serbian community has formed here?
- Yes, it's always nice to meet compatriots, drink coffee together, talk in your native language. For example, I have known the Alashkert goalkeeper Cancarevic since the age of seven, because we were from the same city. I also knew other footballers in Serbia.
CALLS RELATING TO WAR AND "RED STAR"
- Last year, during the 44-day war, Serbian journalists called you a lot to find out about the situation.
- Yes, they wanted to get information directly from the scene, but I explained that where I am, there is no war. The Serbs had no idea that the war was not going on in all of Armenia. But emotionally it was very difficult, our relatives in Serbia were very worried. The faces of the Armenian people showed how worried everyone was.
- In those days, you published a photo in which the Serbian footballers of Ararat supported the Armenian people. Whose idea was it?
- Yes, it was a very small gesture of support from our side. The author of the idea is the goalkeeper Spasoje Stefanovic. He made T-shirts.
Արարատի սերբ ֆուտբոլիստներ Իգոր Ստնաևիչի, Մարկո Պրլևիչի, Ուրոշ Նենադովչի և Սպասոյե Ստեֆանովիչի տպավորիչ ժեստը։ ✊ ????? Շնորհակալ ենք։ Hvala vam! #ՀԱՂԹԵԼՈՒԵՆՔ #ArtsakhStrongPosted by FC Ararat on Thursday, October 1, 2020
- Journalists, bothered you before the game Crvena Zvezda - Ararat-Armenia․․․
- Yes, Ararat-Armenia has existed for only three years, they did not know in Serbia that there were two Ararats. Everyone asked me what I thought before the game with Zvezda, I had to explain that it was another Ararat.
DIPLOMA OF ECONOMY IN THE SPHERE OF TOURISM AND SPORT
- Let's talk a little about life outside of football. I know that you have a higher education, please tell us about it.
- Yes, my parents have been saying all my life that you need to study because you don't know what will happen after the end of my football career. I graduated from Singidunum University in Serbia and have a degree in economics in tourism and sports. I hope I will need it, although having a diploma in Serbia does not mean that you will have a job.
- How is life in Yerevan outside of football?
-I'm here with my wife and little child. After the preseason, they join me. Yerevan is a very comfortable and safe city for living with a child.
- But you need to come here for Dzoraghbyur for training every day ․․․
- It's not a problem. In Serbia, for training had to travel longer distances. But yes, in Gyumri everything was closer, there were no traffic jams. I cannot compare life in Yerevan and Gyumri. Something there was better, something here. I felt good in both cities.