‘When this opportunity came, I didn’t think twice’ – Dejan Kulusevski
Mon 31 January 2022, 20:32|Tottenham Hotspur
Dejan Kulusevski remembers watching the Premier League when he was growing up in Sweden – now he’s eager to make his mark in the division as a Spurs player.
A young man with a lifelong passion for football, the attacking midfielder has spent the best part of the last six years plying his trade in Italy, his initial breakthrough at Atalanta followed by him winning Serie A’s Best Young Player award after a terrific season on loan at Parma, then experiencing the demands of playing for Juventus over the last 18 months, in both the Italian top flight and the UEFA Champions League.
Now he’s joined us here at Spurs, signing from I Bianconeri on an 18-month loan with an option to buy – and has hailed an “exciting time” as he gets used to his new surroundings in north London.
“I feel very good, I’m very happy to be here, very grateful for this opportunity that Spurs have given me,” smiled Dejan. “The Premier League has always been the league – since I was 15 I was thinking about the Premier League because that’s what we watched in Sweden, that was the best league in the world and I still think it is. It’s just another world. I was always thinking ‘when can I go there?’ and then when this opportunity came, I didn’t think twice.
“I hope to bring energy to the team. I love playing football, it’s the best thing in the world, playing, attacking, defending, playing for each other. To win games, score goals, assists… I just want to do it all. That’s how I have been since I was five years old, playing football with my sister, with my family, with my friends. Football is everything I’ve had and I think it’s fun – the important thing is that you have fun when you play because if you have fun, you’re going to play much better. That’s an important thing that I hope I can bring here.
“I always want to go forward, I always want to score more goals. I’m not the type where if we are winning 2-0 or 3-0 I’m going to go back and defend the result – I want to play, enjoy, have fun and score goals. I’m very happy, just coming here with fresh energy, a new club, a new stadium. I can’t wait to meet the fans, to get to know the whole club, the players in the team… it’s just exciting times. I’m so happy to be here, really. It’s a dream come true, being here.”
Dejan already has vast amounts of experience for someone who is still only 21 years of age. Having left home before his 16th birthday to pursue a path to the top in Italy, he’s played plenty of football in Serie A, the Champions League, the Coppa Italia – which he won with Juventus in 2020/21 – and even the Euro 2020 finals with Sweden last summer.
“I think I have everything to do very well here,” he said. “I’ve been at some teams in Italy, I’ve had a lot of different coaches, learned a lot from them, had a lot of players around me so I think I’m ready for the Premier League at this age and I can’t wait to play.
“At 15-and-a-half I moved to Atalanta in Bergamo. It was very hard, I missed my family so much, I still do these days, but at that age if I didn’t have the friends I had, it would be more difficult. I had a fantastic year at Parma, it was a one-year loan so I had one year to show everybody what I could do and I felt instantly after three or four games that I was getting comfortable, then after that I was just flying, I was just playing, didn’t think about anything, just enjoying my football, and it goes very well when you’re feeling good, so that’s how I want to be mentally and physically. I learned a lot at Juventus – it was two years but two intense years with two different coaches. It’s a very good club with very good players, I’d been playing with one of the best players in the world (Cristiano Ronaldo) so it was a very good experience.
“Now, here at Spurs, I’m excited to work with everybody. I know (Pierluigi) Gollini, I played with him in Atalanta, but I’m very much looking forward to working with the coach, because I know him from Inter. He’s a very good coach, he’s a winner and that’s what I want to be, so I want to learn as much as possible from him. Then with the players, there’s some very good players here and I want to collaborate with them a lot because that’s my playing style – I don’t play alone, I play with my team-mates, so I hope we can help each other a lot.”
What about the person behind the player? Dejan explained that he speaks four languages and places a lot of value in “being nice to people.”
“I’ve been playing in Italy so I speak perfect Italian,” he said. “I speak some English – I’m very happy that I’m here because I know that my English is going to be better, so that’s a good thing – plus I speak Swedish and my parents are from Macedonia, so I speak Macedonian also.
“For me personally, I like a lot of football, a lot of basketball, I like the American culture so I like music, rap, watching movies, reading some books, I like hanging around with family – family is everything. Also being nice to people, that’s very important. My girlfriend is here, we are very good together, I have a dog, so it’s all good!”