Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has opened up about his early days in England with Newcastle United.
The Serb left Anderlecht to join Newcastle United in July 2015, aged 21.
From the off, Mitrovic looked like a hot-head. He was booked only 22 seconds into his Newcastle debut and was sent off against Arsenal weeks later, kick-starting his Toon career in fiery fashion.
In two-and-a-half seasons, Mitrovic had scored 17 goals in 72 appearances for Newcastle, and in January 2018 he was loaned to Fulham.
Speaking to the Daily Mail about his time at Newcastle, Mitrovic said:
“When I came to Newcastle I was very young. The period I needed to settle in… I didn’t have one. I was expected to play straight away and score goals, like Papiss Cisse did a few years before.
“I will always love Newcastle, but that was a big problem for me.”
Fulham though gave Mitrovic refuge, and he’s since proved to be one of their best-ever signings.
He initially joined on-loan as Fulham looked for Premier League promotion under Serbian manager Slavisa Jokanovic. He brought the best out of his countryman, and Mitrovic scored 12 goals in 17 Championship games to help Fulham into the top-flight.
Fulham then signed Mitrovic permanently from Newcastle for a fee of £22 million, and on a five-year contract.
It’s since been money well-spent, and despite relegation last season, Mitrovic scored 11 Premier League goals and remained with the club, to this season go on and score 21 in the Championship, 32 for club and country since the start of August.
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“People forget I have a good record in the Premier League — 21 goals over two seasons in teams that were relegated is not easy” explained Mitrovic, who scored nine league goals as Newcastle were relegated in 2016.
‘There will always be people with negativity. I don’t listen” the 25-year-old continued. “I have my goals, that is how I will prove myself. It’s why I play football. I don’t enjoy passing, running, fighting… goals are my obsession. Only strikers understand that.”
From the angry, hot-headed forward that arrived at Newcastle in 2015, to the level-headed, clinical finisher he is today, Mitrovic’s journey is both admirable and inspirational, and he’s today one of the continents’ best strikers.
He often hasn’t received the praise he should but his quality is there for everyone to see this season. He’s a Premier League striker and next time round he’ll no doubt be playing in the top-flight, be it with Fulham or another team.