"I'm back where I want to be" - Hrustic reflects on Socceroos return

Subway Socceroos midfielder Ajdin Hrustic was introduced mid-way through the second half against Lebanon, for his first international minutes in almost eighteen months.

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The Heracles star spoke to FA media after the game on his return in green and gold and his feelings about where his career is heading.

"Feels great. It's been a long time, like you said, I've missed it and felt good to be back home, out on the pitch with the boys and to get three important points."

Having spent a substantial amount of time away from the national team since the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ to battle persistent injuries, Hrustic notes the tougher experiences of a professional footballer and his joy in having now overcome such challenges.

"It hasn't been easy. I'm not gonna lie."

"You go through a lot in football and some people don't see the dark side of it and see what happens behind closed doors. And look, I won't get into too much detail but it all worked out in the end and that's what counts. I'm back where I want to be and where I'm happy, and that's here with these boys."

Having struggled to cement himself in Verona due to injury, Hrustic jumped at the chance when Eredivisie side Heracles Almelo came calling. The Netherlands have become a second home to Ajdin, who made his Socceroos debut while playing in the country for Gronigen back in 2017.

"It was a very important step for me and I thought about how and what was best for my career and what's best for myself and it came late, the move, but it was one that I think was worth waiting for."

"I'm playing every game and I've got trust in the manager and I think when I have trust from the manager that I feel happy and the confidence comes out."

That confidence was on show against Lebanon with the 27-year-old quick to regain his famous #10 jersey, orchestrating play in the middle of the park alongside a new raft of young stars around him compared to two years ago.

Even as he speaks, you can see how the move to Heracles and the minutes last night re-ignited his passion for the game.

"I love getting on the ball, I love giving the final pass, I love assisting the boys, I love seeing the strikers work so hard and then I do what I can, use my quality so I try what I can to make others happy and also myself."

Hrustic was a key cog leading up to the last FIFA World Cup in Qatar, having now turned 27, which is seen as a key indicator of a midfielder hitting their prime age-range, Hrustic wants another shot in 2026 and is hoping to guide his side there.

"It would mean the world, I think I've still got unfinished business with the World Cup. I went through a difficult period with an injury where I forced myself to play and I did what I could but unfortunately it didn't didn't work out as I as I wished."

"So I've got a lot to work for and there's a lot ahead of me. I'm taking it step by step, but I'm excited."

Finally, the most important question to come out of that match in Parramatta. Keanu Baccus wonder goal... cross or shot?

"I'll give it to him, he did look up and we did work on it to be fair. So whether he was trying to shoot or cross I don't know, but I'd say cross but all respect to him."



Subway Socceroos 2:0 Lebanon
Thursday, 21 March 2024
CommBank Stadium, Parramatta
Kick-off: 8.10pm AEDT

Lebanon v Subway Socceroos
Tuesday, 26 March 2024
GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 7.45pm AEDT
Tickets: Start from $15 Child, $20 Concession, $25 Adult, and $50 Family via Ticketek
Broadcast: 10 Bold, 10 Play and Paramount+