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Montenegrin internationals play the long game

Tuesday 15 January 2013 15.51 CET
Montenegrin internationals at a UEFA A licence course in December

While the national team's main focus is on qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, a good number of Montenegro's players are getting ready for the next phase of their careers. Milorad Peković, Milan Jovanović, Miodrag Džudović, Vladimir Božović and Branko Bošković were among the students enrolling for the first semester of the Football Federation of Montenegro (FSCG) UEFA A licence coaching course. Internationals boasting more than 20 caps were entitled to attend December's short course for free.

"I am not far off finishing my playing career, so I have to think of my future," said 35-year-old midfielder Peković, currently playing in the Bundesliga for SpVgg Greuther Fürth. "I am in football for life and can't ever see myself straying far when I end my playing career. This is a great opportunity for me to turn a new page in my career."

Peković already has a coaching role model, having worked under Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp between 2005 and 2008 at 1. FSV Mainz 05. "He started his coaching career when he was about my age and ten years later he is one of the best in the world," said Peković. "I will never forget his training methods and relationship with the players, and will try to use what I learned and heard from him."

Former FK Crvena zvezda, Paris Saint-Germain FC and SK Rapid Wien midfielder Bošković is back home at the end of a third season in the United States with DC United, and is also thinking long term. "I am 31 and I plan to play for a couple more years, but this is a good way to start thinking about football in another way," he said. "When you are a player, you don't need to think about a lot of things – just train well, play the best you can, fight for your team and do what coach says. I know that coaching is more complex, but I expect I will be able to think about fooball in a different way when the time comes."

FSCG coach instructor Nikola Rakojević is encouraged by the players' enthusiasm. "These are the first steps, but it is very promising," he said. "I think they realise how big the difference is between playing and coaching, which is very important. If they think they know everything about football, they will have problems, but if they are ready to learn every day, using the experience they have from playing in strong leagues and working with good coaches, they could be on the right track."

Meanwhile, the director of the FSCG coaching school, Niko Raičković, is delighted these top players "see their future in Montenegrin football", saying: "As a small nation, we must care about every single talented player, but also for every young coach. I am glad to see our best players think about coaching and we are committed to giving them the best education and support possible."

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