When it comes to the world’s most popular sport, the likelihood of attaining professional status is slim to none for soccer enthusiasts. Far more unlikely is the chance to play the beautiful game in your own hometown where the dream first started. For SFU’s own Jovan Blagojevic, this fantasy has become a reality.
The Coquitlam resident was selected by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the third round of the 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft (54th overall), in what could only be described as a perfect situation by the 23-year-old.
“It’s been unbelievable, like I’m living a dream come true,” Blagojevic told The Peak. “I always wished it would have been Vancouver; it’s amazing to play professionally and stay home with my family. It’s great to have the comfort of people that I love around me [. . .] you couldn’t write a better story.”
The midfielder/striker modestly recalled wanting to finish his senior season with the Clan on a high point, and he did exactly that. In his 18 matches, he notched 18 goals, earning honours as the 2014 West Region Player of the Year and Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) Player of the Year.
The Serbian-born attacker made his mark on all his matches with the Clan, whether creating goals from nothing or poaching goals in all areas of the pitch with the support of his teammates. Blagojevic credits much of the development in his attacking qualities and leadership to the Clan coaching staff.
“When I came to SFU I was still a work in progress, and had some tweaking to do,” he said. “Coach Alan [Koch] taught me to be very direct in my play, and to always contribute to the flow of the game and to our team.
“When I was named captain that was also a great honour. I took it upon myself to lead the guys and do my best so that helped me have the season that I did,” he added.
Clan head coach Alan Koch expressed his congratulations for Blagojevic following the selection by the Whitecaps.
“It’s pretty cool for somebody who’s from Vancouver to be drafted by the hometown team, so it makes it pretty special,” said the coach. “He’s worked incredibly hard to get himself where he is and he deserves the opportunity.”
Apart from the skills Blagojevic brought as a player, Koch mentioned some of the mental qualities that contributed to his successes with the Clan.
“He absorbs information, is very self-reflective, and addresses his limitations. His hunger, his drive, and his passion, that’s what allows him to be good in big games,” he noted.
Fittingly, Blagojevic becomes the first player drafted into MLS from SFU — from any Canadian university for that matter — and he will continue to ply his trade in the blue and white of the Whitecaps.