1860 Munich's forgotten Aussie split on national allegiance

Milos Degenek is frustrated he’s fallen off the national team radar since his Joeys days but says he’s definitely not closed the door on an international career with Australia.

Croatia-born and Australia-raised, Degenek has risen to prominence after starting both of 1860 Munich’s opening two matches in the German 2.Bundesliga.

The 21-year-old defender/midfielder previously was involved with the Australian set-up at under-age level, along with Serbia’s Under-19s.

When pressed about his background, Degenek says: “I’m a Serbian, who was born in Croatia, lived 11 years in Australia and now lives in Germany.”

The Sydney-raised man popped up at 1860 after signing a two-year contract with the club in June, having left VfB Stuttgart after three seasons where an Achilles injury curtailed his progress.

Degenek acknowledged he has only played two games in Germany’s second tier and isn’t getting ahead of himself, but said the lack of contact from the Australian set-up, at all levels, over the past few years has left him ‘a bit lost’.

Despite playing at the 2011 Under-17 World Cup, he never graduated to be part of any Young Socceroos or Olyroos camps. He continued to be overlooked despite making the Stuttgart bench in the Bundesliga too.

“I was a bit off the radar when I left Australia,” Degenek told FourFourTwo.

“No one really believed in me or in what I was doing. I never had any complaints about that.

“I’m just going to wait to see what happens. They’re welcome to call or contact me.

“If nothing happens, then I wish everyone all the best. The most important thing is club football, because without playing for a club you can’t play with the national team.”

The only contact Degenek has had with the Australian set-up in recent times came months ago from former Socceroos football advisor Craig Moore.

Meanwhile, the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) has been in more regular contact, having capped him eight times at under-19 level.

Degenek hasn’t played for Serbia at youth level for two years, nor has the national team contacted him about a senior call-up, but he said the FFS have made him feel more wanted.

The situation has left Degenek uncertain about his international allegiance.

“For me at the moment, who comes first? If Australia wants me or Serbia wants me, I’m not sure,” Degenek said.

“I’d obviously need to talk to the coach. I’m not informed about who is doing the key roles because I’m over here and I don’t have any contact with anyone in Australia.

“I’d have to see what the plans are. Does he want me or does he just want me to come for that one time like a trial?

“I’m 21-years-old and playing in the second league in Germany, which is no small thing, so if someone wants me, they’ll come knocking on the door. That’s up to the FFA and the Serbian federation.”

Degenek said England-based duo Adam Taggart and Ryan Edwards were the only two of his former Joeys team-mates who he remained in contact with, beyond Moore in the Australia set-up.

“I’m not too sure why I’ve lost contact. Maybe because I went overseas, but I’m not too sure,” he said.

“I’ve got nothing against the FFA for that, there’s obviously other players they see.

“I’ve just got to keep playing week-in week-out and hopefully someone notices me and approaches me from a national team perspective.”

Degenek admitted his progress at former Bavarian giants 1860 has come as a surprise to him.

He said the one-time Bundesliga champions and two-time German Cup winners, who previously had ex-Socceroos Ned Zelic and Paul Agostino on their books, had reinstated his own belief in his ability.

“I was surprised when I made my debut in the first game of the season,” he said.

“You need positive energy and people around you to help you. This is what this club has done for me, I’m so grateful.”

As for his form and hopes of staying in the starting XI, he added: “I played centre-half in the first week and then number six this week which is my normal position.

“I’ve improved a lot as a person and as a footballer. I believe now if I keep working hard there’s a lot more good things to come.”