A-League great Ninkovic reveals retirement date
Humble, enthralling and divisive in equal parts, Milos Ninkovic – one of Australian football’s greatest-ever imports – has decided to call time on a trophy-laden career.
The Serbian magician choked back tears as he told his Western Sydney Wanderers teammates last week that he will retire at the end of the current A-League Men season.
The playmaker, who turns 40 later this year, has been troubled by a calf injury picked up on the eve of the season and has yet to get through a 90-minute performance for Marko Rudan’s side.
But Ninkovic will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest overseas signings of his generation after arriving at Sydney FC in 2015.
He is just one of two players in the A-League era – the other being Thomas Broich – to have won the Johnny Warren Medal on two separate occasions.
The midfield maestro claimed three championships, three premierships and an Australia Cup with the Sky Blues before defecting to the Wanderers after a public spat over his visa status in 2022.
His cross-town switch helped rekindle the Wanderers and the venom of the Sydney derby.
And while his mind is as sharp as when he began his career 24 years ago, the Belgrade-born veteran says his body is telling him it is time.
“I had nine years with Dynamo Kyiv but I didn’t enjoy it like I have enjoyed football in Australia,” Ninkovic told AAP.
“I want to be remembered as a player who gave everything every time.
“I’m really pleased to have won so many trophies but the most important thing for me is the respect I showed to my teammates and the opposition.”
To date, Ninkovic has scored 40 goals in 241 games for Sydney FC and the Wanderers.
He won titles in Ukraine and Serbia and represented his country 28 times, including at the 2010 World Cup, which he describes as his greatest achievement.
Ninkovic has already begun working on his badges to move into coaching at Western Sydney at the end of this season.
“I definitely want to be a coach, I didn’t have that ambition a few years ago but on the training pitch is where I’m happiest,” Ninkovic said.
“Marko has mentioned that he would like to see me as his second assistant.
“But I still want to concentrate on this season and finish in the best way possible.”
If coaching doesn’t work out, eldest daughter Angelina, 12, and son Novak, 5, could also continue their father’s legacy.
“Angelina wants to play for the Matildas,” Ninkovic quipped.
“I’m not sure about Novak yet if it’s Serbia or the Socceroos, but they love their football and now I’m going to have more time to spend with them.”