Jeggo pushing on despite citizenship issues

Jimmy Jeggo is hoping to put a frustrating six months in Austria behind him following citizenship issues ahead of the start of the new campaign this weekend.

Jeggo’s Sturm Graz takes on third tier Studlau in the Austrian Cup on Saturday morning (AEST) before the Austrian Bundesliga commences the following weekend.

After playing just once for Graz following his January move from Adelaide United, 24-year-old Jeggo has featured regularly in pre-season, starting the club’s final pre-season friendly against 1860 Munich last weekend.

It’s a situation which has Vienna-born Jeggo excited following a challenging first six months at Graz after being denied an Austrian passport which meant he had to play as a foreigner.

Upon his signing, Graz had expected to be able to play Jeggo as a local given he was born in Austria, but he was denied citizenship given his parents are British and he left the country as a child.

The Austrian Bundesliga has rules which only allows clubs to select six foreign players in each matchday squad, meaning Jeggo was left on the sidelines for most of last term.

Jeggo’s hopes of Austrian citizenship were finally ended when he returned for pre-season but the club has reduced its foreign legion this campaign to five players, giving him his best shot at the first team. 

“The team had nine foreigners in the squad last season and six of those were all regular first-team starters,” Jeggo told FourFourTwo.

“Obviously that made the first six months a bit tough. We’ve had a big change over the summer, with a new sport director coming in having missed the Europa League.

“We’ve now got five foreigners here so there’s no issue on missing out so it gives me a fair crack at trying to get a game.”

Amid Jeggo’s passport frustration, he watched from afar as his former Adelaide team-mates lifted the 2015-16 A-League championship and premiership.

He admitted it was a case of mixed emotions as he endured arguably the biggest challenge of his career while his friends celebrated the ultimate success.

“If I was playing it wouldn’t have been an issue, but being in my situation it made it tough,” he said.

“It was mixed emotions. I was very close to everyone there. I was sitting here watching all their games. 

“If you speak to anyone who’s made the jump over here, it’s a similar sort of thing. They’re things you have to go through. 

“It’s not easy. It was tough but I was over the moon for everyone. They really deserved it.”

The three-time Austrian champions have added midfield depth this off-season, with Uros Matic, Philipp Huspek and Stefan Hierlander all arriving to create competition for Jeggo, who said he has improved since leaving Australia.

Upon his return to pre-season, the ex-Melbourne Victory man officially found out he wouldn’t obtain an Austrian passport but has since attacked the new campaign with a positive attitude.

“It changes my situation at the club a little bit, but I said to myself lets go back in pre-season and give it everything I’ve got,” he said. 

“I’ve had good feedback. So far it’s been quite good, I’ve managed to get quite a few minutes and I’ve been happy with how I’ve gone. 

“Hopefully I can get a lot of game time at the start of the season and go from there.”

As for his Socceroos prospects, Jeggo knows that’ll be a byproduct of achieving his personal goal for 2016-17 and playing regularly at Graz.

“The biggest thing for me now, is I need games. At 24, games are vital for you,” Jeggo said.

“(The national team) is always in the back of your mind. But you see in midfield the amount of depth, first things first I need to be playing regularly here in a good European league and doing well. 

“That’s my focus, to get game-time here and to push on. If I do well and I do get the call-up it’d be massive for me.”