Having stood by the club that nurtured him, FK Austria Wien defender Aleksandar Dragović believes he still has the chance to star in the bigger leagues one day, telling UEFA.com: "If you are good, you can make it anywhere."
At 19, the central defender is already a regular for his club, and he made a good impression in the UEFA Europa League in the autumn with his performances giving little indication of his tender years in a position where old heads typically thrive. "Of course, I am nervous before every single match," he said. "But once the referee blows the whistle, that goes away."
That cool head was very much in evidence as Dragović made his senior international debut on 6 June last year in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Serbia, where his family come from. The game was at the home stadium of his favourite club, FK Crvena Zvezda, and saw him face his footballing idol, Manchester United FC defender Nemanja Vidić, but Dragović was unfazed, putting in a fine show.
Austria lost that game 1-0, but it was an important learning experience for Dragović, not least as he had the chance to watch Vidić at close quarters. That showed him that he still has a fair way to go. "I still have work to do when it comes to my pace, my physique and my heading game," he conceded. "You can always improve in every area."
If keen to improve, his current qualities are enough to ensure scouts are already closely monitoring Dragović, with rumours suggesting a move to Italy may be in the offing. The player, however, was giving nothing away. "I have a contract with Austria until 2011 and as long as I am here I will do my best for the club," he said, adding cautiously: "Every footballer wants to play in a big league at some point."
His international team-mate David Alaba did that sooner rather than later, the 17-year-old leaving Austria Wien for FC Bayern München in 2008, but Dragović is in no hurry to emulate his friend. "I have known him for ages, since our youth academy days. We are in touch all the time," Dragović said. As for his own career path, he stresses "there is no one and only way. If you are good, you can make it anywhere".
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