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Teenage kicks: Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic is the latest player to look back on the early days of his career both as a footballer and a young man growing up in his home country of Serbia...

What club did you play at?

When I was young I played for Vrelo, a small club in Serbia. I started at the age of five years old. My father was my first coach from five to nine then after that I moved.

Was it strange for your father to also be your coach?

He was the coach but when you are five you are just left to play and kick the ball. He had fun with us. He was never happy with my game, though. In fact, even now he’s not! Maybe once he said I was okay.

What positions did you play?

I played midfield. I was the number 10 - the maestro. My brother plays there now and he learned off me then – and he still does now!

How did you get to training?

I was born in a small village in Serbia and I walked to the pitch, probably about 500 metres from my home.

What was your favourite music during your academy years?

I loved Zdravko Colic then and I still do now. He is a legend in Serbia. My favourite song is Mjerkam te, mjerkam. It's a romantic song.

Tell us about the moment you signed your first professional contract?

I signed my first professional contract in Slovakia when I was 18. I moved there and signed for Kosice. I was on my own. It was a big moment because I moved from the third division in Serbia to the first division in Slovakia. It was a big step in my career.

Best piece of advice you received?

(Eden Hazard interjects: ‘watch Hazard videos on YouTube!’)

No, they told me to do everything not like Eden Hazard does!

I don’t remember one specific piece of advice. With every coach you learn something special. When I was five I knew I was going to play football, it was my life and every day I just played football. I finished school and then I played, and during the night I was playing. I never thought I would do something else.