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Stefan Scepovic On Celtic, Playing In La Liga And representing Serbia

Stefan Scepovic On Celtic, Playing In La Liga And representing Serbia

An interview with Stefan Scepovic, by Callum McFadden for WFi.


Your breakout season in football arguably came in 2012/13 when you won the Serbian title with Partizan Belgrade in your native Serbia. What are your memories of that time?

“I came through the academy system at Partizan before moving in to play for clubs in Belgium, Italy and Israel prior to returning to the club in 2012.

“So, it was special for me to return and go into the first team because that was all I wanted to do during my time in the academy system.

“The season went very well for me and for the club because I was able to contribute to the team by scoring goals whenever I was picked as we went on to list the Serbian league title.

“The success of that season led to a number of teams showing interest in me. Sporting Gijon were one of them and having spent part of my childhood in Spain, I felt that moving to play in Spanish football would be a good fit for me.”


In your first spell at Sporting Gijon, you scored 23 Segunda Division goals and registered 10 assists. How special was it to hit the ground running in Spain from day one?

“It was an incredible time for me. The environment at Sporting was perfect for me as I was playing every week, I had a strong grasp of the language and the culture there which enabled me to perform.

“I was also full of confidence whenever I stepped out onto the pitch because I was coming off the back of winning a league title the previous season. It was the perfect storm.

“As you mentioned, I scored 23 league goals and made 10 assists which was job done as far as I was concerned as a forward player. It was the best season of my career individually and it was not enough for the club to be promoted to La Liga so I assessed my options.

“There was plenty of interest in me and my time at Sporting led to me moving to Celtic on the last day of the transfer window in the summer of 2014.”


You were at Celtic for just over one season and won the SPFL title and the league during your first season under Ronnie Deila. Was it a bittersweet experience for you in the sense that you achieved team success without starting as many games as you would have liked? 

“I would say that is a fair way to assess my time at Celtic. Moving to the club was a no-brainer as they are one of the biggest clubs in European football. Their history is immense and I felt that from day one.

“The club means a lot to me even to this day even if I did not play as many times for the club as I would have necessarily wanted.

“It was a huge honour for me to play for the club and to be able to win two trophies even if I was only able to start seven or eight times during my time there which was mostly off the bench.

“We were unlucky not to win the treble during my season there which was unfortunate as we reached the semi-final of the Scottish Cup that season as well as winning the other two trophies. Looking back, we were so close.

“I also scored a couple of goals in the Europa League group phase and four in the league which doesn’t sound like much but it was a fair return given the number of starts that I was given.

“Without doubt, I wanted more game time to be able to showcase what I could do but it was not to be for me with Celtic.

“I always think what might have happened if I had stayed for at least another season but such is football that I moved on.”


You played alongside Celtic legend Scott Brown while at the club. What was he as a leader in the dressing room?

“Honestly, he was inspirational and everything that you want from a captain. He is an out-and-out leader in everything that he does.

“There are not many captains in the current game like him. He pushed everyone at the club to train and play at the highest level and he defended his teammates like his life depended on it.

“It is no surprise that Celtic achieved so much success when Scott was at the club because he led by example and made sure that others followed.

“He deserves every success that he had in his playing career and it was a pleasure to play alongside someone like him.”



You played in La Liga with Getafe after leaving Celtic. What was it like to play at the top level of Spanish football for the first time?

“It was a challenge but one that I relished. I had a great time at Getafe even though it was a rollercoaster of a journey with a relegation from La Liga and a promotion back to La Liga during my time there.

“The relegation was such a shock given that we were sitting in the European places in the first half of the season. Unfortunately, our second half of the season was disastrous in comparison to the first half and we had a long run of games without winning which ultimately cost us when it really mattered.

“Thankfully, we were able to win promotion back to La Liga at the first time of asking which was the minimum requirement for everyone at the club.”


You won eight caps for the Serbian national team. What did playing for Serbia mean to you? 

“It meant so much to me and my family. It is the ultimate honour for any footballer.

“Representing your nation is the biggest thing that you can do and it was a pleasure to be involved with the national team.

“I won eight caps and scored one goal which is something that I am proud of as it was a dream come true for me to be able to play for Serbia even once.”


Finally, Stefan, you are now 33 years of age, what do you hope to achieve in the remainder of your career?

“I want to continue playing for another few years because I love football and I know that I can contribute something at a good level.

“I changed clubs a lot when I was younger which was not down to me. That was down to my agents who knew that they would make a commission if I moved from club to club.

“As a young player, you do not fully realise that is why they are encouraging you to make certain moves but once I matured, I changed agency and things settled for me.

“I have had the experience of playing in various counties in European football and also in Australia.

”I have loved playing in different cultures and I am ready for whatever challenges come my way in the coming years.”

COMMENTS

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    Piotr 3 weeks ago

    Absolutely fantastic footballer who, in his pomp would remind you of a young Beckenbaur. I remember him playing for Getafe, top, top, top quality player and i do not say that lightly.