Steve Lustica, the Aussie who last week signed for Western United, has played Inter at the San Siro, faced Barcelona in Split and scored against Arsenal in front of 83,000 fans in Sydney. Then there’s a Croatian derby in front of the breathtakingly exhilarating Torcida (more about them later).
The Green and Black’s new signing – who debuted last Friday night in Wellington – spoke to www.wufc.com.au about six career highlights, starting with a trip to the San Siro.
Beating Inter Milan at the San Siro
It was a 2012 Europa League qualifier for my club Hajduk Split. We’d lost at home 3-0. It was a big game at the San Siro. It’s a hard place to go. We won 2-0. I came on in the last 10 minutes. What a great experience. They had Zanetti, Milito, Cambiasso, Coutinho. There were about 40,000 there.
We had a couple of thousand fans from Split, and our fans were louder than theirs and causing havoc. We lost 3-2 in the end but they’d taken off Sneijder and they were panicking. I was put on late in an attacking midfield role. It’s an iconic stadium. I’d been playing for Gold Coast a year earlier. From Robina to San Siro. What a journey.
Dinamo Zagreb derby
The atmosphere. It’s just a different level. The whole week you can feel the buzz. You feel the responsibility and pressure when you play for the club. Fans will come to training if they’re not happy. So derby day is huge. Three Aussies played in that game, myself, Joe Simunic and Ljubo Milicevic. Joe played for Dinamo.
But for me, The Toricida are the greatest fans in the world. (The Torcida? It’s like Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Year’s Eve: one of life’s most breathtaking sights of color, noise and sheer pride from the stands. Check them out HERE).
I grew up loving Hajduk Split, so it was a dream come true.
Facing Barca in Split
A special game, to celebrate 100 years of Hajduk Split. It was actually my debut. A pre-season friendly. I’d just signed so this was my first official game. I came on in the 60th minute. It was 0-0 but we did quite well.
A full stadium at the Poljud. But following Iniesta around. That was tough. There was a lot of work off the ball. You couldn’t get the ball off Iniesta.
His movement across the park, it was next level. He played on my side of the park. Iniesta’s touches, composure, and movements. David Villa also played that game for Barca.
Scoring against the Gunners
A proud moment to score against Arsenal, albeit a friendly. It was for Wanderers in Sydney. There were over 80,000 fans at ANZ Stadium. A great night. We were down 3-0 but we beat them in the second half and I got the goal in the second half. Ozil came on.
A lot of class in that team. You don’t get starstruck, you feel you can match it with them. See Lustica’s goal HERE
A-League Grand Final win in 2014
It was 2014. Under Mike Mulvey. A huge day, I think it was called Orange Sunday 3. Full house at Suncorp and a global audience on TV. Bes [Berisha] played for us and he scored the goal that got us back into the game. It was an emotional night after going a goal down to come back and win the title. Special memory.
Scoring a hat-trick for Roar
I scored a hat-trick for Roar in 2015. Not often central midfielders score three. It was against the Mariners. We won 6-1. I got an assist too.
Growing up in the nation’s capital, the 28-year-old central midfielder dreamt of playing for Hajduk Split.
He made the Australian youth team in 2009-2011 – under Dutch coach Jan Versleijen – providing the technical platform for a career in Europe, primarily with Croatian powerhouse Hajduk Split and in Asia with Quzilqim Zarafshan in Uzbekistan
On the domestic scene, Lustica’s seen time with Gold Coast United, Brisbane Roar, Adelaide United, and Western Sydney Wanderers over the last decade.
And now he’s with Western United.
WANT TO SEE LUSTICA AND CO. PLAY?
Western United’s next home game is against the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday, March 1 at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong.
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