Exactly five months ago, Nikola Đurđić was still a relatively unknown striker playing for Norwegian side Haugesund. He scored twice in his farewell match for the Norwegians, playing in front of the crowd of 3124 – and a day after that his life changed.
Today he is a Serbian international and a starting striker for Greuther Fürth – earning hero status with the last-gasp winner he scored against FC Schalke 04 last weekend.
”It sounds surreal”, says Đurđić in his chat with bundesligafootball.co.uk, trying to digest the last few months. ”But after all that happened in 2012, I guess I’m used to it”.
He began last year as the Haugesund striker, playing his third season in the Norwegian league, after moving there from Serbian minnows Voždovac. Đurđić scored 12 league goals in 18 matches, adding four more in the domestic cup, and attracting the interest of the bigger clubs. Still, he opted for a loan to Swedish champions, Helsingborg, playing against Celtic in the UEFA Champions league play-off less than 24 hours after he was introduced to his new team-mates.
”That was crazy. I was playing the biggest match in my career, and I couldn’t even name my teammates. Still, we played decently, wasted some great chances and lost at the end, but it was a kind of boost for me, because everybody was so friendly. I knew things will go well”.
And they did. He scored on his league debut opened his account in Sweden. Ten goals in 11 league matches followed, including four more in Europa league – netting one against Bundesliga side Hannover 96.
”I have to say that I had great time in Helsingborg. I even think that we could do more in Europe, if we had some more experience and luck, but at the end, it was a good season. I came there to help them in Europe, but to be honest this was a great chance for me too, to prove myself on the bigger stage”.
Đurđić obviously used this chance the best he could, making him as one of the hottest transfer targets in Swedish league. Fürth was the most concrete move for him.
”Again, everything happened fast, they were very persuasive, I felt that they really want me in their team. I realised how much they respect me and what they want from me, so I couldn’t miss the chance like this. To play in one of the best leagues in the world, that is the dream of every player, and mine became reality overnight”.
When Đurđić joined them, Kleeblätter were on the bottom, as the worst attacking side (11 goals) and with only one win, ten points from safety.
”I am well aware of the situation. But, I am not worried, because I felt that this people in Fürth will do everything to avoid the relegation. The only important thing is to give the best we can, to fight until the last second, and if things go wrong, it is not end of the world. We’ll have different conditions, but the challenge will remain simillar, to get to the Bundesliga”.
What Greuther Fürth needs is him to remain the form he had in 2012, when he scored 30 goals in competitive matches.
”That is what I do for living”, laughs Đurđić. ”Of course that it would be great to remain the form, but the competition here is much stronger than in Scandinavia, and of course it is much harder to play. But, I believe in myself and this team, and I’m convinced that we are not selling our skin cheap to anyone”.
”Wolfsburg is coming this weekend and this is very important match for us. After we beat Schalke the atmosphere is even better, and we can’t wait for this match. It is important for us because if we win this, it will be addition to that 3 points from Gelsenkirchen but more than anything else the wind to our back, a boost for the games that are coming”
”I think the Schalke match proved that we can play anyone and showed our determination. We want to stay in Bundesliga and we are not giving up until the last second!”
Follow Sasa Ibrulj on twitter @sasaibrulj