Making the grade in European football is never easy, it’s a road full of bumps and surprises – just ask Dutch-based Australian youngster Ajdin Hrustic.
Despite the tough moments, the 20-year-old has urged fellow Australians to take the risk in the early stages of their careers and he says it all comes down to the systems in place.
“I think so,” he told Outside90 when asked if he believed more players should risk making the move overseas.
“I moved to Europe quite young, probably the same age as Jason (Davidson).
“The structure is much better in Europe, to be honest. Australia is growing, there is no doubt about that but Europe is just on another level.”
Hrustic is well aware of the problems young players sometimes face, having dealt with similar issues at Schalke whom he signed for in 2012.
“At Schalke, the under-19 coach (Norbert Elgert) was one of the best in Germany and me and him didn’t have the best of connections because it was my first professional step,” he explained.
“In Australia, everything was done different, so in the first year I did struggle, to be honest, and in the second year I had my groin operations and ended up playing five or six games and that was it.”
The former South Melbourne starlet would decide to move on from Germany in 2014, signing for Groningen on a three-year deal, a move which has met his desire to play more football.
“Last year was difficult for me with injuries and multiple other things. But this year I would say it is a move that has paid off,” he said.
His 2014 decision was seen in full effect in March after Hrustic was part of an Olyroos squad which formed in Spain, the Victorian’s first experience with the under-23s.
“It was a great experience, to be honest for my first time. I stayed there for just under a week and I really enjoyed it. It was nice weather, it was a good camp and I had a good game,” Hrustic recalled.
But it was boss Josep Gombau who appears to have had the biggest impact on the youngster.
“We understood each other from day one. He told me he wants me to be straight up and I said that’s what I want also, to be honest with me, tell me what you think and I’ll tell you what I think.
“That’s how we went on from there and we’ve got a great connection.”
Until he is to make a senior appearance for Australia, Hrustic could possibly be pried away by Bosnia.
Although Hrustic says he is yet to make a decision on his long-term international allegiance.
“I’m getting asked that a lot. For now, I would say, yes. But what happens in the future I can’t promise to say anything about that.”