Rivalry is a driving force many use to either better themselves or merely defeat their opposition. It can be built upon a mutual respect or even petty jealousy with the line between the two often a fine one. For Deni Juric it is a positive force which drives him to be better than he is now and surpass his brother, Socceroo forward Tomi Juric.
“My biggest inspirations in football would have to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo Lima and of course my brother Tomi,” Deni told Football Central.
“If I had to describe myself as a player, I would say that I’m a simple player and a good finisher, I like to do most of my work inside the box like my brother, but sometimes I surprise myself with the thing’s I do on the pitch.
“I’m young, raw and a hard worker, similar to my brother, just that I will work harder to be better than him.”
At 10 years old Deni with Tomi and his family moved to the country of his heritage, Croatia. Both Juric brothers taken with football and within the Croatian system began to forge their respective professional careers.
Tomi would begin his professional career in 2009 at the now defunct NK Croatia Sesvete while Deni is also starting at a Sesvete club, NK Radnik Sesvete, which plays it’s football in the Croatian Second Football League (Druga hrvatska nogometna liga – 2.HNL).
“I got my first taste of first team football about a year ago when I was 17. I played five or six games.
“I found it a bit tough but after a year of hard work, I have improved enough to get another chance and now it is a lot easier.”
Many Australian footballers of dual nationalities have over the years faced questions of where their national loyalties lie. Deni has impressed enough at Sesvete to be called up to the Croatian U19 side where he joined fellow Australian, Ivan Vujica, in the recent friendlies against BelgiumU19.
“First I was excited knowing that I have done well enough to get called up for Croatia,” the player who models his game on Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed.
“Overall I was very happy to get a chance to play with the best Croatian u19 players.
They have been really impressive and I believe that they can qualify and do very well at the next Euros and Youth World Cup.”
However with a brother currently involved in the Australian national team, it is of no surprise there is the ambition to create a Juric dual threat in the green and gold.
“That has been our dream – not just mine – since the day we started playing football.
“I hope it will happen soon whether that be club or international football. Preferably playing in the Green and Gold along side my brother.”
So far there has been no contact from Australia but “hopefully there will be in the future”. For now though the young striker is concentrating on developing football in a country that is one of the most efficient and prolific producers of football talent in the world.
“Croatian club’s have good football schools, good coaching systems and there are many talented players that are willing to improve,” said Juric.
Being located in Zagreb, NK Sesvete is often scouted by bigger clubs such as Dinamo Zagreb with a move possible for anyone who impresses, yet when asked, Deni was unsure if he saw that as his preferred pathway.
“You could say Sesvete is a feeder club.
That’s a hard question to answer, it’s an option, but I would prefer to go abroad.
I would like to play in the Bundesliga or the EPL but there is still time to improve and learn and hopefully I will get there one day.”
Only time will tell if the Juric brothers will be the next Vidmars? Or the next Vieris?