Why Danny Vukovic's Belgian adventure exceeded all expectations

When it comes to overseas transfers, it was truly a case of third-time lucky for Danny Vukovic. 

But the fact that the Socceroos shot-stopper did not make a single first team appearance during short-lived experiences in Japan and Turkey made each and every game for Belgian club KRC Genk that little bit sweeter. 

After debuting as a teenager in the NSL for Parramatta Power and establishing himself as a mainstay throughout the A-League, Vukovic embarked on a four year-stint in Europe that he will never forget. 

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Upon confirming his return home, the three-time Socceroo provided a powerful insight into his thoughts when taking the plunge moving abroad back in 2017. 

"I really couldn't have asked for things to go any better," he told The Socceroos Podcast. 

"I just wanted to go over there and play one game and build on things from there and I finish my time there with over 100 games played. Within my first year I played in the Europa League, won a Championship and qualified for the Champions League so I couldn't have dreamed for things to go this way." 

Danny Vukovic
Vukovic and his son Harley celebrate with the Genk fans

Despite everything he achieved, it was not all smooth sailing for Vukovic at Genk, as he was forced to overcome many obstacles to keep his European dream alive. 

"There weren't always good times," he reflected. "There's a big injury thrown in there, and missing out on Champions League football.

I had my highs and lows but, for the most part, those are memories that will last with me for the rest of my life." 

While the premature decision to return home before the end of the season shocked many, Vukovic revealed that for family reasons, it was a relatively straightforward choice to make. 

"It was a difficult time but I won’t say it was a difficult decision," he shared.

"I know I made the right decision but it was still an emotional time to call an end to my time there, but my wife's seven and a half months pregnant and she was already back here in Australia. 

"With her and my son we felt it was just the right thing to do, to have the baby here, as the coronavirus situation in Belgium is really, really bad.

"There's a lot to look forward to especially the family situation, going to see my wife and son again, as well as my parents who I haven't seen for a year and a half and other friends and family."

Australian football fans watched on in awe as images of Vukovic's incredible farewell from the Genk supporters were shared across social media. 

Interestingly, Vukovic revealed how the club played a part in the classy gesture. 

"It was amazing, to be honest, not surprising because that's what the Genk supporters do," he said. 

"They don’t do it for every player and I know they took to me really well. I think that they just got wind of when I was leaving they probably have a contact in the club or something, so at 10 am the taxi was picking me up and they arrived at quarter to ten and basically filled up my whole street.

"I lived on a small street in Genk and it was just filled with Genk supporters and smoke and them singing, so I have no doubt that the neighbours were a little bit frightened as to what was happening outside! But that was a nice little send-off and just shows, I guess, what I meant to them.

Amid all the discussion of his next destination - whether it be at home or abroad - Vukovic enforced that 'all options are open at this point in time'.

"I definitely haven't closed the door on Europe," he said.  "But I've also been pleased to see how the A-League has been going this season - it's very exciting and I think the standard has increased.

"So I wouldn't be unhappy to be back home and playing and we just have to wait and see what comes in. The club I go to has to be the right fit for me and my family, we have certain requirements as a family with my son and my wife, so we need to make sure that they can be looked after first and then everything else has to fall into place after that." 

READ: Danny Vukovic announces Genk departure
WATCH: Danny Vukovic's incredible Genk farewell