Milos Veljkovic (23) is one of the top performers at Werder Bremen. The Serbian national player, who grew up in Switzerland, has already experienced a lot in his young career from club to national team changes. Before his time in Bremen, the defender played in England, made his debut in the Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur.
Before the Bundesliga home game against FC Bayern (Saturday, 3.30 pm in LIVETICKER), the 2015 U20 World Champion talks in an exclusive interview with SPOX and Goal about his time on the island, an important conversation with Spurs star Harry Kane and two Serbian high-flyers.
SPOX/Goal: Mr. Veljkovic, you’ve been around a lot with your 23 years. As a teenager you moved from FC Basel to London to the Tottenham Hotspur Youth Academy. With what feelings do you look back on your time on the island?
Milos Veljkovic: It was a courageous and daring step, but a very good and instructive one. On and off the square. As a 15-, 16-year-old, I played in Tottenham’s second team and later trained with the pros and made my debut in the Premier League.
SPOX/Goal: How would you describe football in England?
Veljkovic: As very hard and intense. I can’t really judge the Premier League game because I only had two short stakes, but I was later awarded to Middlesbrough and Charlton in the second division. There it was physically even more demanding. One had to find quick solutions, otherwise it went from time to time also on the bones.
SPOX/Goal: What is the difference between English and German football?
Veljkovic: In any case, there are some similarities. You don’t have much time on the ball, you have to play technically high quality to be successful. Perhaps the difference is that in England it is even more intensive that you have to walk a little more. But that always depends on the opponent.
SPOX/Goal: At the Spurs you trained with stars like Gareth Bale or Emmanuel Adebayor. Who was the best for you?
Veljkovic: Luka Modric! His technical skills and calm on the ball were incredible. I haven’t coached with a better player yet. Unfortunately, we never played a compulsory game together.
SPOX/Goal: How much did you actually have to do with Harry Kane?
Veljkovic: A lot. I’ve played a lot of games with him on the second team. He was already a great player back then with an excellent goal instinct and a strong technique.
SPOX/Goal: Many coaches always say that talent alone is not enough. You have to work hard, too. Was hard work Kane’s key to the breakthrough?
Veljkovic: Absolutely. He was borrowed a few times and didn’t succeed everywhere. But he was constantly working on himself. I remember a good conversation with him when he was on loan to Norwich.
SPOX/Goal: What was it about?
Veljkovic: He had broken his foot and fell out longer. Then he told me he was going to change his lifestyle in rehab. For his dream of professional football, he completely changed his diet and training. That paid off. After that conversation, I tried that, too. I have also learned over the years that you have to listen to the fitness trainers. You mustn’t do too much, otherwise you run the risk of hurting yourself more quickly.
SPOX/Goal: Is it difficult for you as a professional to do without a burger or a pizza?
Veljkovic: Basically not. You also have a goal in mind, you want to play as well as possible every weekend. During your summer holiday you may let yourself go for a walk, but you can and are allowed to eat more. (laughs)
SPOX/Goal: Are there or were there colleagues in your career who could not do without fast food?
Veljkovic: In the youth at Tottenham some are after the games to McDonalds or have eaten donuts. But those were rather exceptions. At 16 or 17, it’s not so bad if you treat yourself to something less healthy every now and then. Ultimately, everyone is responsible for themselves. You have to take care of yourself and your body. For example, I’d rather eat at home than in a restaurant.
Page 1: Milos Veljkovic about Tottenham Hotspur, Luka Modric and Harry Kane
Page 2: Milos Veljkovic on Serbia, a sad doping test and Werder Bremen