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Meet the Serbia starlet who wants to play for Australia

Marko Jankovic has represented Serbia at youth level Source: Supplied

Serbian youth international Marko Jankovic is attracting interest from the A-League and has declared his desire to represent Australia.

The Melbourne-born 17-year-old has played for Serbia at youth level but returned to his birthplace this year to live and is after a switch to the A-League.

The World Game understands at least three A-League clubs are considering a move for the teenage striker for the new season.

Jankovic relocated with his family to Serbia at the age of five and came through the youth teams of local sides Partizan Belgrade and FK Brodarac.

Partizan’s academy is one of the most respected in Europe and has produced countless senior Serbian internationals such as Sasa Ilic, Savo Milosevic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Nikola Milenkovic and Lazar Markovic.

Jankovic previously played in the UEFA Youth League and for the Orlovi at youth level. But the forward, who is eligible for Serbia, Australia and also Croatia, now wants to don the green and gold.

“For Serbia I played against Spain, Ecuador, Slovakia, Montenegro, Macedonia,” Jankovic told The World Game.

“I scored four goals and got two assists in five games. It was amazing, it was a pleasure to play for Serbia, I grew up there. But it’s my dream to play for Australia.

“Although I represented Serbia at youth level, if I get an opportunity to wear the green and gold I would not think twice to be honest because I was born here. This is my country.

“I have three passports because my mum was born in Croatia, so I have Croatian citizenship as well. But my dream is to play for Australia though.”

Jankovic moved back to Melbourne this year with his mother just before COVID-19 hit. The striker has been training with NPL Victoria club Green Gully to maintain his fitness.

“I was born here, I left Australia when I was five years old to go and live in Serbia,” he explained.

“I played junior football there with Partizan Belgrade for five years. Then I joined FK Brodarac, and I played in the youth Champions League against Manchester United two years ago.

“That’s where I’ve spent the last few years. I’ve been training a little bit with Green Gully, then the coronavirus started.

“The A-League is my goal for next season. I want to be patient and wait for an opportunity as I’m at an important age in my career now.

“In Europe, at 17 years old they consider you old, but in Australia they consider you young. I want to ensure I join a club that gives young players an opportunity to play. Growing up playing football in Serbia is very competitive.

“It’s tough and rough, they treat you like adults from a very young age. Everyone wants to make it so you need to work harder than everyone else. It’s such a high standard there.”

Jankovic grew up looking up to Portuguese phenomenon Cristiano Ronaldo, and the likes of strikers such as Robert Lewandowski and Ciro Immobile.

The teenager considers himself a traditional target man who can also play on the wing.

“When I was a kid it was always Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldo,” he admitted.

“But for me now, the best strikers in the world are Lewandowski and Immobile. My idols are Ronaldinho and Griezmann as I was born on the same day as them, March 25.

“I like to play up front. Mainly I’m a number nine, a classical number nine but if the coach says, 'play on the wing', I can play on the wing as well. Wherever he says.”