Trophy-laden club season gives Degenek impetus to hunt Socceroos silverware
Miloš Degenek has become accustomed to the sensation of lifting trophies with club side Red Star Belgrade. So much so, that the in-form defender is eager to win "another one, and another one, and another one" ... and envisages doing so with the Socceroos.
Degenek linked up with the Socceroos in Dubai last week before travelling to Kuwait as part of Graham Arnold's squad to compete in four upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ qualifiers.
The centre-back comes into the national camp off the back of a gargantuan club campaign with Red Star, which garnered a pair or trophies. Red Star went undefeated in the Serbian SuperLiga (W35, D3, L0) before beating bitter rivals FK Partizan on penalties to clinch the Serbian Cup to send Degenek travelling into Socceroos camp with a full head of steam.
The target now for Degenek is to help Australia win four qualification fixtures against Kuwait, Chinese Taipei, Nepal and Jordan taking place between June 4-16 (AEST) to finish top of Group B progress to the third round of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️.
But ultimately the steely defender has greater intentions for his time spent with the national side. Degenek says taking his club trophy count to five this season has only made him hungrier for more - and there's no better place to start than aiming high with the Socceroos and encouraging the rest of the squad to buy in.
"I think once you have that winning mentality, once you’ve got the first title and your hands on the trophy one time you want to keep winning," said Degenek.
"You want your hands on every possible trophy you’re able to play for.
"Whether that’s the Asian Cup, whether that’s a World Cup, a Confederations Cup... whether it’s the boys going to the Olympics, I’m 100% sure they have a chance to get their hands on a medal - hopefully a gold one.
For me personally, every time I win a trophy it just drives me to win another one, and another one, and another one.
That’s why it can help in a national team where you know what it takes to win a trophy, and you can pass on to other players who are almost there, or who haven’t experienced that yet.
"We’re quite an experienced squad, and we know what it takes to be a squad that’s winning, and what it takes to be a winner. But when you’ve won trophies and win things like that, it gives you a bit more of an advantage."
Degenek is one of six players coming into the Socceroos camp lugging a trophy in their overhead baggage.
Nikita Rukavytsya won the Golden Boot on the way to helping Maccabi Haifa clinch the Israeli Premier League title this season. Jamie Maclaren will finish as the A-League's top scorer with an 11-goal lead at the top of the Golden Boot chart with one game to play, which will add a second trophy to his name after both he, Connor Metcalfe and Curtis Good sealed the Premiers Plate with Melbourne City before departing to join the Socceroos.
Kenny Dougall, meanwhile, fired a brace for Blackpool to earn Man of the Match honours in the English League One playoff final at Wembley Stadium.
Degenek says the players arriving in Arnold's squad after lifting silverware with their respective clubs do so with a spring in their step - and the confidence that brings is helping the Socceroos dream bigger as they reconvene for the first time in more than 18 months.
"For me personally it’s important to win titles, because titles will always and forever be remembered,"said Degenek.
"For me that’s important, that’s my third title and my first cup that I’ve won. So yeah, it was a good way to finish off and to sign off that way, and to come into camp here with a few trophies.
"When you come into a national team camp when you’ve won a trophy, or you’ve been promoted or something like that, it doesn’t matter if you’re a striker and won golden boot, or a defender that’s been named best player in the league, either way when you come into camp after you’ve won a trophy you look a lot lighter and a lot happier, and things seem to go a lot smoother.
"Obviously congratulate (those) two, Nikit for winning the title and Kenny for getting promoted, which is unbelievable.
"That makes a few more of us that have won trophies this year."
Degenek and the Socceroos resume their qualification run against Kuwait on June 4 (AEST), followed by three fixtures against Chinese Taipei (June 8 AEST), Nepal (June 12 AEST) and Jordan (June 16 AEST). Topping Group B would ensure Australia progress to the 12-country third round, with the top two sides of each group of six advancing to the FIFA World Cup while the two third-place nations play out an Asian and intercontinental play-off.
Australia v Kuwait
Thursday, 3 June 2021 (4 June AEST)
Venue: Jaber Al-Hamad International Stadium
Kick-off: 10.00pm local, 5:00am AEST (Friday morning)
Watch on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports, ABC TV, and My Football Live App.