Dusan Vlahovic on Fiorentina, Ibrahimovic's message in Serbian, his chat with Ronaldo
Currently the most popular player in Italian football hosted us in Fiorentina, where he gave an exclusive interview to our portal
If he continues at this rate, it is only a matter of time before Dusan Vlahovic becomes the best football player in the world - and the proof that he is going in the right direction is definitely the year 2021, which is in every sense marked by the Serbian striker.
This is true of its very start and the previous season during which he scored 21 goals for Fiorentina, and of this current one in which Vlahovic, with 10 goals in 13 matches, currently shares the number one spot on the list of top Serie A scorers.
The famous Henry Ford once said that only those who work tirelessly for days become famous overnight, so this year Vlahovic finally "charged for" both the talent and sacrifices and the said work which, as his teammates say, sets him apart from most footballers.
Dusan's shine was hinted at at the end of December 2020, when he scored three goals in six days (including against Juventus), and continued with another 17 until the end of the previous season. With these 10 that he has scored so far, Vlahovic is the second football player in a league in terms of the number of goals in a calendar year - he left behind Erling Haaland, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, while only Robert Lewandowski is ahead of him with 38 goals.
Vlahovic scored the last two goals on Saturday night against Milan and, along with an assist, was the main "culprit" behind Fiorentina's triumph over the league leader. Two days later, with the necessary hard-won permission from the club, Vlahovic gave an exclusive interview to Telegraf.rs whose crew, together with his other Serbian teammates, he welcomed in Florence.
Vlahovic spoke for our portal about the match against Milan and the great success of the Serbian national team, how head coach Dragan Stojkovic Piksi relaxed them before the match against Portugal, revealed the details of the conversation with Cristiano Ronaldo after the match, while he also spoke about Zlatan Ibrahimovic against whom he came out victorious on Saturday.
"The game against Milan was a dream game, but like in any in job, in ours as well what has been is already all forgotten and the most important thing is what's coming, what follows. A day after the game there was euphoria but today we are already starting to train for the next the game against Empoli," said Vlahovic, who, of course, was in the media around the world after the Milan game.
"I try not to follow the media that much, but it always somehow finds its way to me. Either my friends send it or it pops up on social media. It certainly makes an impression, it pleases me, and is an incentive for further work and for further progress. I think I should continue to train even harder and with an even greater desire and will and I hope to continue this way."
Zlatan told me in Serbian, "Don't give up, march on" and wrote a message in our language on the jersey
Considering that he played against his childhood idol, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it's no wonder that many media outlets made a comparison between the two after the match and concluded that Vlahovic is in a way Ibra's football heir.
"Each game against Milan has a special feeling for me since everybody knows all those stories about Ibrahimovic, that he is my idol. On Saturday I scored my first goals in Milan, I won against Milan for the first time since I've been playing and it's a great pleasure. I wish to congratulate the whole squad, the staff and to thank everybody for their support. I hope we will continue like this. On Saturday already a very important game awaits us, the Tuscan derby which we are all eagerly awaiting and we will give it all we have to win."
"As for comparisons with Ibrahimovic, I don't feel like his heir and I think that everyone should have their own path. The 'Ibrahimovic-Vlahovic' stories are certainly pleasant, he is a great champion, one of the best strikers that's ever played football and everything he has done for football, simply, a lot has to happen to get close to his level. The fact that he still plays at the top level speaks enough about him, his hunger for success and his character. He is a great example because of everything he does and the energy with which he works. I try to have my own path, to work more on myself, to get better and to try to achieve the best results so I hope that I will maybe get close to him maybe in the future."
Asked if he had a chance to speak to Ibrahimovic after the game, Vlahovic said:
"We spoke last season when they beat us 3-2 here (in Florence). I went, to Milan's dressing room, we exchanged a few words,he gave me his jersey and we took a picture. He told me at the time in Serbian, "Don't give up, march on," and he wrote that message in our language on the jersey which thrilled me. During and after this game we did not talk. They lost and I didn't want to go over to him. I know what it's like when you lose, it's certainly not nice and pleasant and considering that I know a lot of Milan players, I didn't want to disturb anyone."
We will do our best for Fiorentina to play in Europe
Everybody who knows Vlahovic well knows that he works hard on himself, and the Fiorentina striker admitted that he stays on long after a training session is over, even for up to two hours, to practice free kicks.
"Football has today become a sport where, unless you work on yourself it's very hard to stay at a certain level and it's very hard to succeed. According to me, work is the most important thing in football. Of course, so is rest. But to work on yourself, to improve yourself each day not only in training and by watching games, your opponents, there are plenty of ways for somebody to improve. Yes, I stay on after each training session and not only on free kicks but to work on everything I can and I think that is one of the preconditions for success. So I will continue that way and I will try to reach the top level, and, what's most important, when I get there to stay there," said Vlahovic, who believes that his team can qualify for a European competition this season:
"We are all working and want to go to Europe because Fiorentina has not played in Europe for many years now and I think that it would be a great success for the club. I think this group of players and this staff deserve that and we will do our best to achieve some goals that we set before ourselves."
"I don't want us to be out in World Cup group stage but to achieve something big for Serbia"
Vlahovic can now fully dedicate himself to Fiorentina and the desire to help the club qualify for Europe, because he very much so helped Serbia reach Qatar in the qualifications for the World Cup. The crowning achievement was seen in Lisbon, where Serbia beat Portugal a few days ago (2-1).
"It was truly unreal. My impressions have not yet settled but it's a truly unreal feeling, to go to a big competition, to beat Portugal in Portugal, a game that was like a final for us all and to achieve the only result that took us to the World Cup. I think we've achieved a great success but I think we are only at the beginning. We've spent very little time playing as this team and I think that in time, everything will work out. We have a Mister who we all know what he was like as a player and here's how he's turned out as a coach. We have a group of players with serious qualities, unity, who care about the national shirt. I wouldn't like us to go to Qatar and not go past the group stage, but try to achieve a great result that will make the nation and all of us happy."
Piksi's joke in the dressing room in Lisbon relaxed footballers
Vlahovic also revealed for Telegraf how head coach Stojkovic motivated the team ahead of the game against Portugal.
"I can only say that he made us laugh ahead of the game. During his pep talk he told a joke and we all started laughing. And that broke the ice and we went into the game a bit more relaxed and with even greater conviction that we can win. He always tells us that our quality is serious, that we can play against anyone and he really believes it. Mister wants to play offensive football, he wants to compete against everyone, he wants to keep the ball and, like they say, for us to play in style. Regardless of the results Mister wants us to play with dedication from the first to the last minute, to deserve the audience's applause at the end. I hope we will continue like this. I believe this national team with this Mister as the head coach can achieve great and historic results."
It doesn't matter who plays but for Serbia to achieve result
It was not easy for Vlahovic at Lisbon's Estadio Da Luz, because, unlike in some previous matches, he was the lone striker against Portugal - without the help of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who entered only as a sub. However, that did not create pressure on him, even though he is only 21 years old.
"The head coach decided on that lineup and it's up to the players on the pitch to get the maximum out of it. Above all, Mitar is a great professional, a serious guy who never gives up. He went out on the pitch when the coach estimated that it was the best considering the circumstances, and he scored a goal that took us to Qatar. He certainly means a lot to us on the pitch. Everything turned out perfectly. After all, it doesn't matter who plays, what matters is what we have achieved."
The match did not start great for Serbia, because the hosts took the lead in the second minute. However, the fact is that our team was prepared for various scenarios - which Vlahovic himself has confirmed.
"We were preparing for this game against Portugal for a long time. Mister reassured us that we must stay calm whatever happens and that we can do it, that whatever happens we can win and not to lose faith. He said that we have our path, our goal and that in the end everything will turn out the way it should. It was certainly not easy, there was that early shock but we soon rose again and continued to dominate the game, and in the end God looked down upon us, but that quality that we have came through," said Vlahovic, who was overjoyed at the time:
"Nobody knew where anyone was headed. I didn't know if I was going left or right, I really felt euphoria and only a day later when I woke up and rewound a little bit to see what I had done and the messages I sent to my buddies only then did I realize what kind of euphoric mood I was in. You saw what happened in the dressing room, what Mister told us and I think that he was very happy. I think all of us deserved it."
Vlahovic confirmed that, out of respect for the Portuguese hosts, there was no celebration in the hotel.
"It did not continue, because Mister said that we must behave in a dignified manner, to be dignified in victory and in defeat and not to make a noise. They were our hosts, they hosted us in a very nice way and it wouldn't have been right towards them to make a commotion."
Ronaldo told me that his goal in Belgrade should have been allowed, and I told him they'll go through the playoffs
Video: Do sad neviđeni snimci: Slavlje posle Mitrovog gola iz prvog ugla i rasprava Vlahovića i Ronalda
The image that also went around the world is the conversation between Vlahovic and Cristiano Ronaldo after the game, and the Serbian striker revealed what he told the Portuguese.
"My dad always said to me, after each game, whether you win or lose, go and salute your opponents, extend your hand to everyone and to the referee. I do it to this day. So I went to him and in that moment, understandably, he was very nervous and angry. The only thing he said to me, as is more or less well known, was that the goal in Belgrade should have been allowed, that this maybe turned everything around and that was that, generally speaking. I wished him luck in the playoffs and said that they will go through because they have one of the best players in the world."
Luckily, Serbia doesn't have to deal with playoffs and now the national squad's thoughts are turned to the World Cup and the rivals Serbia will get. Asked who he wishes they would be, Vlahovic said:
"I think that's completely irrelevant. We are in the World Cup and if we want to achieve a result we must play against the best. I have not spoken about it with the head coach, we are not thinking that far ahead yet. We know what we must do, we must go there and give it our best and try to win as many games as possible."
Finally, Vlahovic touched on his football routine outside the pitch, and the public attention that he cannot escape.
"We have a life routine. Go to the training session, recovery and sleep. Certainly it's the same about the food, the diet, I follow a certain regimen because like I said football has reached such a level where each tiny detail matters. When it comes to the public attention, I've said that it really doesn't interest me, the only measure and the only thing that speaks the truth is the pitch and I think that the pitch tells it all. I'm focused on football, on training and making as much progress and helping the team as much as possible. Whether with goals, assists or some other things in the game. The most important thing is that we're winning while everything else that's happening around me, I really have no interest in," said Vlahovic, who is currently without a doubt the top star of Italian football.
(Zorica Radulovic and Mario Maric)
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