Regarded in some quarters as the biggest foreign name to join a Polish club when he arrived at Legia Warszawa in summer 2011, 34-year-old Daniel Ljuboja is living up to his billing.
Having registered 11 league goals last term, he has already matched his 2011/12 tally to lead this season's Ekstraklasa scorers chart – and with Legia four points clear in the table, the former Serbia and Montenegro forward may have more than one reason to celebrate come the summer. "I have never won a title or a top scorers' award," he told UEFA.com. "This season I have the chance to do both and I want to grab it."
Ljuboja shone for the likes of RC Strasbourg, Paris Saint-Germain FC, VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV before landing at Legia as a free agent following a spell with OGC Nice. It has proved to be a wise decision. "I feel great in Poland and Legia are a really big club with a fantastic new stadium and amazing fans. They have not won the title since 2006 so they are very hungry. Their goals match mine because I want a title too. I have never won one."
The striker's trickery has impressed the supporters as much as his goalscoring. "I love football and I am quite confident about my abilities," he explained. "I like to give the public as much joy as I can. That's why I sometimes show them something extra, but it has to be for the good of the team."
Ljuboja kicked off the season with a hat-trick against Korona Kielce, but had gone through something of a winter lull before his powerful strike at Górnik Zabrze on 15 March. "Before the Górnik match I had not scored for a few games, but I never lost confidence," he said. "I know I can score and was sure the goals would come. I would never have any doubts even if I went ten games without a goal."
While his contract expires in June, Ljuboja is not concerned. "It is true I am getting calls from agents who say a lot of clubs are interested, but that's normal when you are doing well," he said. "For now, I am just glad to be doing something positive for this team. I am experienced and every club needs players like that: Manchester United have Ryan Giggs, AC Milan had Paolo Maldini, and Legia have me and Michał Żewłakow."
He also has a hero to live up to. While Ljuboja admits he "had a look through" the biography of swimmer Michael Phelps that Legia's new president Bogusław Leśnodorski recently gave all his players, his old coach at Stuttgart, Giovanni Trapattoni, is Ljuboja's personal touchstone. "When it was cold, -4C or -5C, he used to put his shorts on and go out for training with no gloves," he said. "I looked at him and wanted to be the same – as strong as Trap."
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