Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Men’s National Team forward Jovan Kirovski.
Like a number of American players that have spent almost their entire pro career overseas, Kirovski is still somewhat of an unknown commodity in the U.S., with crowds having only seen him in small doses over the last four years. But now that he’s back in SoCal in MLS, fans and opponents alike are starting to find out what the one-time Manchester United prodigy has been doing since he left California at the age of 16. We sat down with him and talked about his long-awaited homecoming.
Center Circle: We'll start with the simple ones. You've been all over the place in your professional career, from England to Germany to Portugal and back to England. What were some of the best things about your extensive experience overseas?
Jovan Kirovski: “Being a part of the Dortmund team that won the Champions League was very special. That's not something many people get to do. I had a great experience growing up through the Manchester United Academy, and being a part of the organization when they won the league for the first time in something like 30 years. It was the start of their domination in the 90s.”
JK: “The weather was pretty bad. It could be windy, cold, sleeting, snowing, and sunny - all in one day!”
CC: As great as the environment is at Man-U for a talented youngster as yourself, you must have some tiny regrets about missing out on high school or college things like proms and keg parties?
JK: “A little bit. More college than high school. I hear some stories about what the guys did and the experiences they had, and it makes me wonder. Having said that, if I had it to do all over again, I'd make the same decision.”
CC: What kind of career advice would you give a player like Jonathan Spector, who's been doing quite well w/ the Red Devils youth team?
JK: “Work hard and listen to what the older players and coaches have to say. They know what they're doing. And make sure you enjoy what you're doing.”
CC: What would you list as your career highlight so far? Perhaps scoring in the Champions League with Dortmund?
JK: “That's a big one. I've been a part of some great U.S. National Teams as well, like the 1995 Copa America team that finished third and the 1999 Confederations Cup in Mexico. All were great experiences.”
CC: Looking back, are you at all disappointed about any of the stops along the way, where maybe you didn't see as much of the field as you would've liked?
JK: “Certainly I would have liked to play more, especially at Birmingham. It was very disappointing when the coach who brought me in, Steve Bruce, moved on, but that's out of my control. Overall, I have no regrets.”
CC: What's it like to be back in the U.S. to be playing in front of American fans, some of whom know you and other who don't?
JK: “It's great to be back in Southern California and so close to home. The facility at the Home Depot Center is top class, even compared to Europe. Most importantly, I'm playing every week. I haven't been this happy in a long time.”
CC: What's it like to be back in Southern California, as far as your lifestyle off the field?
JK: “It's great to have my family around. I can see them every day if I want to. It's a lot better than not seeing anybody. My wife's family is here as well. I think my personal happiness definitely shows on the field.”
JK: “It would have been a tougher decision if it wasn't LA. I hadn't really thought about going anywhere else in MLS, so I'm happy we were able to get it accomplished.”
CC: After underachieving in 2003 after winning MLS Cup in 2002, it looks like L.A. is back to its old self so far in 2004. What is this Galaxy team capable of?
JK: “From what I've seen so far, I think we are capable of winning it all. A lot of teams are capable as well, but we have some very good players. If we can stay healthy, we're going to be in the mix. The spirit in the group is very good. We've been down so many times, and we keep coming back. It shows a lot of character.”
CC: You seem to fit right in with the L.A.'s abundance of offensive-minded players. What's it like playing within an attacking mix that includes Ruiz, Herzog and Cobi?
JK: “It's great to play with Ruiz because we work so well together. He's a typical center forward, staying high and nosing around the box. It gives me freedom to move around. Herzog is a great passer of the ball, and very experienced. Cobi, coming off his injury, is another weapon.”
CC: How long do you see yourself playing in MLS? Is this is another stop on the road, or do you plan to settle here for say ... five years?
JK: “Right now I'm just thinking about one game at a time. In this business, things can change quickly. I'm just focused on playing the next game.”
CC: After being on the outside looking in on the last two World Cup squads, how do you look at your chances of making the next U.S. World Cup squad?
JK: “I'm just concentrating on playing well and playing consistently. Hopefully that will be good enough that I will get my chances with the National Team. I've talked with Bruce about it, and he said the most important thing is to play regularly. I need to do that to establish myself and get in the frame.”
CC: What would be your dream scenario if you could forecast the next 5-7 years of your National Team career?
JK: “Ideally I would love to be involved in the World Cup qualifying process and play in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. That would be my goal. I'm getting to an age where this could be my last chance to play in a World Cup. I'm always very happy to be called into the National Team. It's a great honor, and I certainly don't take it for granted.”
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