It has been a heady 12 months for FK Budućnost Podgorica striker Fatos Bećiraj. Since signing from KF Besa last January the 20-year-old has taken Montenegrin football by storm. His goals helped fire Budućnost to the title last season and he is drawing admiring glances from abroad after maintaining his excellent strike rate this time round.
Powerful and quick, Bećiraj is a natural scorer and a threat both in the air and on the floor. He scored 20 goals in 32 league appearances during 2008 and 29 in 42 matches overall, including for the Montenegrin Under-21 side. Little wonder then that Budućnost sporting director Mojaš Radonjić has been fending off offers for his burgeoning starlet.
"We had preliminary talks with two Croatian big clubs [HNK] Hajduk [Split] and [NK] Dinamo [Zagreb], but nothing official yet," Radonjić revealed. "I must say, however, that Bećiraj is a very expensive player. In my opinion he is worth at least €2.5m." It is a princely sum for a player who readily admits he is still learning his trade, but with the likes of Mirko Vučinić, Stevan Jovetić and Simon Vukčević already flying the flag for Montenegro in Italy and Portugal, the search for the next star talent is intense. For the time being, Bećiraj is happy where he is and unaffected by the interest from abroad.
"I have only been here a year and my contract is for another three years more," he said. "I'm committed to Budućnost and I want us to win another title. I am very satisfied, but the main thing is that my goals often bring victories. I like to score important goals, not meaningless ones. For example, I scored two goals in the UEFA Champions League [first qualifying round], but our opponent Tampere United went through. I hope my career will be full of important goals."
In the short term, the most important goal is to help Budućnost reclaim the title. Second at the mid-point of the campaign, they are four points behind leaders FK Mogren and Bećiraj is confident they can close that gap. "Last year Budućnost trailed by five points, but we won the title," Radonjić said. "We are better compared to last year, we have more experience and I'm sure we'll be champions again."
On the international front, meanwhile, 2009 looks likely to be the year Bećiraj takes the step up from U21s to the full international side. Though born accross the border in Pec, Bećiraj has taken on Montenegrin citizenship and senior coach Zoran Filipović admitted recently he was keeping an eye on the youngster. Bećiraj is keen to follow in the footsteps of some illustrious names, but knows there is no rush.
Step by step
"I would like to play with Mirko Vučinić, Stevan Jovetić and Simon Vukčević, but I'm not thinking about that right now," he said. "I'm taking things step by step. I must continue to improve and to maintain a good scoring record. That's crucial. When and if Filipović decides to invite me, I will be extremely happy."
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.