He may be only 17 but Andrija Kaludjerović is fast making his name in the Montenegrin First League.
Indeed, the FK Lovćen midfielder has already racked up more than 30 first-team appearances and in November, just 29 days after turning 17, Kaludjerović became the division's youngest scorer. However the Montenegrin Under-21 international – not to be confused with the Serbian international of the same name – is playing down his prodigious achievements.
"First of all,
I don't think I am a star, as I have just started my career," Kaludjerović said. "I am just glad if someone thinks I play good football at my age. And second, that goal was no big deal. I scored from five metres, any player would do the same from that distance. Of course, I am happy to be the youngest scorer, it was a nice moment in my short career."
Kaludjerović credits the man who resigned as Lovćen coach in the winter, Branislav Milačić, with his swift rise. "Coach Milačić is most important person in my career," he said. "He gave me a chance to play at the highest level, he taught me to believe in myself and to play without pressure. I could make a mistake, but I knew he would give me advice and not punish me."
Milačić himself has high expectations of his former charge. "I work with a lot of young players, but I never saw a 17-year-old behave so professionally," he said. "Andrija is fully committed to football, always plays and trains to his full potential. He is not a typical Montenegrin player, because his main strength is defending.
He reminds me of Branko Brnović, the former Yugoslavian international and Espanyol midfielder. With a bit of luck, Andrija could have a similar career to Brnović."
It is not just Milačić who recognises Kaludjerović's talent. He was one of three teenage players honoured with a special award from the Football Federation of Montenegro (FSCG) late last year, alongside FK Partizan defender Stefan Savić and FK Budućnost Podgorica forward Stefan Mugoša.
Kaludjerović said: "Knowing that Montenegro is always full of gifted players, I am proud to be one of the best. I must stay focused because there is long road ahead of me. That award must give me motivation to work better and harder. I have lot of things to improve, especially in the attacking part of my game. I am a defensive midfielder, but I must be more dangerous in attack. I will work on that."
His international breakthrough also delighted the teenager. "I was surprised when I receive a call-up to the U21 team," he said. "I hope coach Dušan Vlaisavljević was satisfied with my performance and I hope I will be in contention for the squad for 2013 European Championship qualifying."
Before that, Kaludjerović hopes to represent Montenegro in this summer's U19 finals in Romania, but only if they can win a tough elite round group featuring Spain, England and hosts Switzerland from 31 May to 5 June. "This is a hard task for us, but we will fight," he said. "Matches against such strong opponents will be very important for me and my team-mates. Every point against those teams would be a success."
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