Under-21 international Darko Zorić was delighted after being acclaimed as the Montenegrin league's player of 2013 following a poll of coaches and captains among the nation's top-flight clubs.
"I expected to be in contention because I had very good year, but I was a little bit surprised when I was announced as a winner," the 21-year-old FK Čelik Nikšić attacking midfielder explained. "This is my first individual award and a very important moment in my career. I feel great because my colleagues and coaches recognised my efforts on the pitch."
Zorić's rise to prominence has come in tandem with that of his club, who became the first second division side to win the Montenegrin Cup in 2011/12, the year they won promotion. Although they lost to FK Budućnost Podgorica in this season's final, the positive vibes continue to reverberate. "That cup victory gave me motivation to improve and to continue to work hard, because there is no better feeling in football than winning important matches," explained Zorić. "I hope I will have a chance to repeat that success in the future."
Čelik are chasing an even bigger prize this time around, trailing league leaders and local rivals FK Sutjeska by only two points at the top of the table at the winter break. However, the battle for the title is something of an emotional one for Zorić, who came through Sutjeska's academy before switching to Čelik in 2011.
"It was a tough decision, but I have never regretted it," said Zorić who scored seven times in the autumn. "I have had everything I needed at Čelik from the day I arrived – the chance to play and to improve, and understanding and support from club officials and coaches. They recognised my potential, gave me the freedom to show my talent, and I hope that they are satisfied with my performances."
His side are focused on the task at hand – "we think about the title and we are ready to fight until the end," he promised – and the midfielder is also looking further ahead as his work with Dušan Vlaisavljević's national U21 team helping to broaden his horizons. "I learn a lot from him and am gaining very important experience," Zorić said. "I hope one day I will get the honour of being a part of the Montenegro senior team. That would be the pinnacle of my career, a dream come true."
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.