Sasa Curcic arrived at Crystal Palace towards the end of the 1997-98 season with the club fighting for survival in the Premiership. Despite what turned out to be a painful relegation for the Eagles, Curcic became a fans favourite with his impassioned displays on the pitch. His match winning performance in that same fateful year helped the team record their first home win in 16 league games.
Eighteen years on, Curcic has spoken about the highs and lows of his footballing career in an interview for Palace TV’s ‘Cult Heroes’ series, and says real life for him only started at 40 years-old.
“When I retired I was fed up with football, I’d lost the love and passion for the game and it’s since I finished football that I’ve started to rebuild my life. I cannot hide that when I was playing I was part of the social nightlife, nice dinners, mixing with celebrities and I enjoyed it! But I learnt it wasn’t real.
“Now I have my academy which is not just football but a life academy for these children and teenagers. You cannot be a great coach without life experience, having good man-management, and players who play for you and love you - life coaching and motivation is a big part of that.”
The midfielder says he has fond memories of his time at Selhurst Park, but admits he was never a complete team player, wanting to impress the fans with his performances as opposed to working hard for the team.
“Every goal I celebrated with them (the fans), I was a crowd pleaser, everywhere the fans loved me. But I wasn’t very good for the team because I wasn’t a team player, I was a strong individual and I played football for the fans and everything I have done on the pitch has been for the fans.”
Watch Curcic’s full interview with Palace TV’s Chris Grierson at Eagles.cpfc.co.uk