4 August 2014 07:48
Robert Koren said he rejected offers to stay in English football to embark on an A-League adventure with Melbourne City.
Former Slovenia international Koren spent eight seasons in the United Kingdom with West Bromwich Albion and then Hull City, performing strongly in the Championship and the Premier League.
Formally unveiled as City’s new international marquee on Monday, the 33-year-old says the lure of a leading role in John van ‘t Schip’s new-look side proved too intriguing to refuse.
“I was looking for something new, something different,” he said.
“There were a few options, even to stay in England. But I was looking for something new. When I sat down with people from Melbourne City, it was an easy decision. I’m glad that I came over here.
“I’ve never done something like this. I came here to help the team, to help the club [reach] another level.”
City tackle Sydney FC in the FFA Cup round of 32 in Ballarat next Tuesday, although the clash could arrive too soon for supporters to catch their first glimpse of the new arrival.
“It’s difficult to say,” Koren said when asked about his potential involvement in that game.
“We need to go day by day. I’ve just done the first session. I will work hard every day until next Tuesday and then it’s up to the manager to make a decision.”
Van ‘t Schip raised the spectre of what can go wrong when a star signing is rushed into action prematurely, referencing the broken leg suffered by last season’s international marquee, Orlando Engelaar, during his first friendly outing for the club.
It remains to be seen whether the injury suffered by Engelaar was down to a lack of fitness or bad luck, but Van ‘t Schip has no intention of taking any risks with one of his prized assets.
“We have to be careful and learn from the past, with Orlando,” he said.
“It’s important he shows that he’s very fit.”
The humble Koren politely declined requests to describe what type of his player he is or to predict what fans will see from him next season, opting – to invoke an age-old football cliché – to let his feet do the talking.
“I would invite everybody to come to the games and make their own opinion about me,” he said.
“I don’t like to talk about myself.”
His coach had no such qualms, publicly earmarking Koren for an important attacking role in the City team.
“He’s a midfielder, he has attacking qualities,” Van ‘t Schip said.
“He’s going to play in one of the advanced positions in the midfield.”