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Pretty much a re-hash of the same old stuff, but there are a couple interesting points.


Ante up: Bedford’s Ante Jazic has been a free agent since February, but says he could soon hear about a new contract.

Jazic plays the waiting game

By Chris Kallan

The Daily News

Bedford's Ante Jazic turned a month-long vacation to visit relatives in Croatia a decade ago into a pro-soccer career. Currently without a contract, however, the 30-year-old is in limbo as he awaits one final deal before hanging up the cleats for good. The Daily News recently spoke to Jazic about the trials and tribulations playing The Beautiful Game.

DAILY NEWS: You experienced a fair share of injuries over the latter stages of your contract with FC Kuban (Russian League). How did you handle the adversity?

ANTE JAZIC: My body just gave out because I had been playing injured and I started taking painkillers to deal with my back, groin and hamstring problems toward the end of 2004. It was just basically wear and tear from over the years. I've done lots of physiotherapy and tried to get my body back in order. Now I feel like I'm 100 per cent ready to go.

DN: You've had laser-eye surgery within the past two weeks. When did you realize you wanted to go this route?

AJ: When I couldn't pass the ball to anyone on my own team (laughs). I've been wearing contacts for the last few years and they bugged me, so since I've been without a club I thought it would be a good time to get the full tuneup. Everything went well. My vision is already better, but it takes up to a month to recover from the procedure. It might get up to 20-20. But I'm happy so far because my vision is much better than it was.

DN: Did you learn anything about yourself while you've been injured?

AJ: It's hard to stay happy and disciplined because injuries are frustrating. It definitely affects your mood. You have to be psychologically strong and I think I've overcome that. I appreciate how hard it is to get to this level so this whole process of trying to get fit has given me a new passion to play. It's the same feeling I had when I started off my career. Now I'll take my time to pick wherever the best situation is for me right now.

DN: You've been a free agent since February. What have you done to try and secure another pro contract?

AJ: I terminated my contract with my Russian club team because I was certain I was going to sign with the MetroStars (Major League Soccer - now called New York Red Bulls). I went down there for a week for contract negotiations and spoke with the coach. He saw me train down in L.A. with the Canadian team and we came to an agreement that I was going to get a payout from my Russian contract and I'd sign down there for the same amount. But the Red Bulls took over the team and offered significantly less money so I turned the contract down and just came home. Now I'm just waiting to hear from my agent if there's any new news. Hopefully I'll have something by the end of this month.

DN: How do MLS teams rank in comparison to the top European clubs?

AJ: Technically, the MLS might be a little behind, but it's an extremely athletic league with a lot of speed and physical ability. Overall, I don't think it's that far behind. I'd love to play for the new Toronto franchise in 2007, if that's an option for me.

DN: You've represented Canada 15 times, but at one point, your dual citizenship could have allowed you to represent Croatia. How satisfied are you with your choice?

AJ: There was talk of possibly playing for Croatia, but that was never finalized. To be honest, I'm pretty happy that didn't happen because I love representing the country where I was born. I cherish every opportunity to play for Canada.

DN: You've actually turned down a few chances to represent Canada in the past. How difficult is that to do?

AJ: I was focusing more on my club career rather than my national team career at the time. I didn't want to leave my club team for two weeks and then lose my spot. Plus, no one wants to fly to a game or a tournament and then sit on the bench and not play. So I gave it a rest for awhile.

DN: Canada is ranked 83rd in the world and hasn't qualified for the World Cup since 1986. How can this country improve its status on the international stage?

AJ: They have to develop a domestic league where players are paid to play because the USL doesn't go far enough. A team like Toronto in the MLS is a step in the right direction and hopefully there'll be more Canadian expansion. This would move the whole national team program forward. We'd have more Canadian players playing locally and not have to fly back from Europe for training camps and exhibitions and tournaments.

DN: What's the best advice you could give to anyone wanting to follow a pro soccer career?

AJ: You need talent to begin with, but that's only a small part of success. Unfortunately, lots of kids don't realize that. You need drive. You need discipline. You need to work your ass off. You need a little bit of luck on your side, and sometimes a lot of luck. It's definitely not a cakewalk because a lot of things have to come together. No matter how good you might think you are, there's someone just as good or better just around the corner. I actually made more money pumping gas at the Petro-Canada while going through university than from the first contract I signed. You have to work your way up from the bottom.

DN: You've been spotted watching a number of Nova Scotia Soccer League Premiership games the last few weeks. What are the chances of you taking a run with Dunbrack where your younger brother (Alan) is a member of the coaching staff?

AJ: If you see me out there at all, you'll know my career is officially over (laughs). Hopefully, not for another four or five years, though.



- ALL THOSE YEARS AGO: Played youth soccer with Suburban United ... Captured two provincial titles with Charles P. Allen ... Helped Nova Scotia win bronze at 1993 Canada Games ... Key member for Halifax King of Donair ... Won 1995 national championship with Dalhousie.

- PRO DEBUT: Aug. 17, 1996 - played for NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac of the Crotian national B league.

- PRO CLUBS: NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac, Croatia (1996-99); Hajduk Split, Croatia (1999-01); Rapid Vienna, Austria (2001-04); FC Kuban, Russia (2004-06).

- NATIONAL DEBUT: May 18, 1998 - played at centre midfield for the final 35 minutes in Canada's 1-0 victory over Macedonia at Toronto's Varsity Stadium.


- DID YOU KNOW?: Rapid Vienna paid a transfer fee of approximately $1 million Cdn to acquire his rights from Hajduk Split in January 2001.

- QUOTE: "I could count the number of goals I've scored on both hands, but they're usually beauties." - Jazic.

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"DN: You've had laser-eye surgery within the past two weeks. When did you realize you wanted to go this route?

AJ: When I couldn't pass the ball to anyone on my own team (laughs)."

I take back what I said earlier. That sounds pretty humble to me.

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