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Croatian “Pain Train” Josip Habljak Reflects On Journey

  • Saturday, January 16 2016 @ 11:51 am ACDT
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Recently, World Footy News published an interview with Croatian journeyman, Josip Habljack, who has become a beacon, if you will, for other European players seeking a dream to follow in A Pilgrimage From Zagreb To Adelaide. Following is an excerpt from a new interview with Josip for the Savez Australskog Nogometa Hrvatske (SANH – Australian Union Of Croatian Football) looking at his journey since his arrival.


The 24-year-old from Velika Gorica, Josip Habljak was a Zagreb Hawks player, but now he is in Australia. He is the first Croatian footy player who became a pro and signed one-year contract in Adelaide for Sturt FC. Read this interesting interview and find out more about his life in Australia.


 How did you manage to sign one-year contract for Sturt FC and to play footy in Australia.  What is the key of your successω


It’s all thanks to the good performances for the Croatian national team „Croatian Knights“ at the European Championship in Dublin 2013 and the European Cup in Bordeaux 2013, London in 2014 and in Umag 2015. I was regularly selected  in the team of the tournament and I had an opportunity to play for a young European team „European legion“ against the Australian sports academy, AIS-AFL where I  was re-elected as one of the best players in the field. For this reason, Australian scouts were interested in me and I received several offers for lower leagues in eastern Australia.

However, my friend and coach of the Croatian national team, Ante Lončar, gave me an advice to wait with my decision. Meanwhile, Ante contacted his childhood friend who is  president of my current club and he decided to give me an opportunity. A year after I got visa and I finally went to Australia.

 How the footy in Australia looksω Are there any differences between training in Croatia and in Australiaω

First of all, one training here reaches more fans than people in Croatia play actively. There is no big difference with excercise but it’s all on a higher level. Most of the guys grew up playing this sport. The biggest difference compared to Croatia are training conditions. There is also a head coach and a few assistant coaches. Once a week, we have 3 club trainings on the field and two in the gym. Most of the players go to the gym and run more often  because they want to be fully prepared for the season.

 Your club competes in one of the strongest leagues of Australian football. Tell me more about your relationship with the rest of the team.

Sturt FC, the club where I train, competes in SANF that starts at the end of March and lasts until October, where after playoffs follows the final match. AFL is the strongest league, but next to it are SANFL and VFL, so I play for one of the strongest leagues of Australian football.

In the team with whom I train, mostly are guys in their early twenties and they accepted me very well. We support each other, but sometimes I have feeling that they give me a little more support because I’m from other country where footy is not developed as in Australia.



To see the rest of this article, go to the SANH website at: http://www.sanh.hr/thepaintrain-i-njegovi-prvi-dani-u-australiji/ωlang=en