A champion in Lithuania a year ago, Serbia captain Nemanja Maksimović tells UEFA.com about returning to the finals, moving abroad and his new-found love of reading.
Article top media content
As one of three members of the Serbia squad to have lifted the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Lithuania a year ago, Nemanja Maksimović in enjoying a second taste of the tournament in Hungary. He talks to UEFA.com about his experience as a European champion, the impact last year's tournament had on his club career – and how you can't beat a good book.
UEFA.com: How does this year's tournament compare to 2013 so far?
Nemanja Maksimović: Last year we started the competition with a victory, which was a big boost for us. After that, our confidence was really high.
UEFA.com: Last year was fantastic for you; what are your memories?
Maksimović: True, last year was phenomenal. The memories of that final are brilliant. But to be honest, the biggest feat was in the semi-final against a great Portugal team. Penalty kicks after 120 minutes of great battle ... After a match like that, playing in the final was easy.
UEFA.com: What did it mean for Serbian football?
Maksimović: The title was a huge success. For the first time we became champions in one of the youth categories in Europe. Our biggest focus now has been on qualifying for the [2015 U-20] World Cup in New Zealand, which will be another huge feat for our football.
UEFA.com: How is being back in the tournament as a U19 veteran?
Maksimović: Myself and two other players played last year. We are doing our best to help our team-mates who lack that experience cope better with the pressure. The aim is to play as relaxed as possible, just like we were in our clubs.
UEFA.com: You'd left FK Crvena zvezda before last year's tournament and subsequently joined Slovenia's NK Domžale after the finals; how important was the title for your career?
Maksimović: Being a European champion is very important, but so is every participation in such tournaments. My good performances allowed me to find a new club. I feel happy at Domžale and it was imperative that I got a chance to play at senior level. They've given me that and I am grateful for that.
UEFA.com: How was your first season abroad?
Maksimović: The first six months were tough, with the new country and all; there were also some problems with my papers. But after that got sorted out and after I got accustomed to the new environment, everything was great. I played well, the guys accepted me, so I couldn't be happier. At the time I'm at Domžale, and it looks I'll stay for one more year. I don't know anything else. At the moment I am concentrating only on this championship.
UEFA.com: You like to read books, which is a rarity nowadays isn't it?
Maksimović: Well, while I was in Serbia, I really didn't read a lot. But after moving to Slovenia I quickly realised that it would be much better for me if I read, instead of wasting time on the internet. I've read most of Robin Sharma's books, I like Ivo Andrić ... I haven't brought any books to Hungary, though. I am totally focused on football at the moment.