Oh brother! Deni Juric steps up bid to follow Tomi’s Socceroos path

Source: HNK Šibenik / Deni Juric

Deni Juric - younger brother of Socceroos striker Tomi - is fast emerging from the shadow of his famous sibling.

A hat-trick in Croatia’s top flight over the weekend helped newly-promoted HNK Šibenik jump to fifth on the 1.HNL ladder, whilst enhancing Demi’s hopes of ultimately following Tomi into the senior national team set-up.

At 23 Deni - who has represented both Croatia and Australia at youth level - is also eligible for next year’s deferred Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Sydney-born attacker has long dreamed of breaking into Graham Arnold’s plans, and hopes his fourth goal in 10 appearances will turn attention his way.

“The last year or two I’ve been playing practically every game and I think I’ve improved a lot,” Juric told The World Game.

“I’m hoping to get noticed (by Australia) ... it’s always at the back of my mind.

“Hopefully I’ll get a call up at some level. I’ve got to keep doing my job and hopefully everything will fall into place.

“I was with Young Socceroos in China for the Asian Cup in 2018 (but not involved since).

“There’s been contact with Croatia ... they’ve got me on the radar.

“But everybody knows Tomi’s my brother and my dream is still to play alongside him for the national team.”

Tipped to struggle this season, HNK Šibenik have been defying the odds and giving Juric a platform to excel.

“A lot of people under-estimate the Croatian league but they’ve got it all wrong,” he added.

“Every year players are getting pretty big transfers to other clubs in Europe, especially from Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk.

“It’s always a fight to make the top four and get into the Champions League or Europa League and it’s a strong league with a lot of quality players.

“I’ve come from the second division and have shown I can play at this level.

“It’s nice to bang in the goals but I’ve been getting a lot of compliments besides that, which is good.

“I think more goals will come - we’ve got 25 games left and that first professional hat-trick of my career gives me a huge lift and a lot of confidence.”

While Sydney-born Deni is on the rise, injury-hit CSKA striker Tomi, 29, has suffered a series of setbacks since the 2018 FIFA World Cup and needs a turnaround in fortune to push for a 42nd cap.

Just like Tomi, Deni operates as a number nine and has added muscle and guile to his game during a career that has already seen him play for five clubs across Croatia.

“I’ve bulked up and spent a lot of time improving the physical side of my game,” he explained.

“The third goal (in the 3-1 win at Varazdin) was from 25 yards and I’m trying to score from all different areas.”

Addressing the travails of Tomi - who has scored once in 10 appearances since arriving in Bulgaria last year - Deni said: “He’s had a bit of a problem with injuries and hasn’t been at 100 per cent to come back.

“Hopefully he’ll be fit again very soon. We’re cheering for that and have our fingers crossed.”