Know Your Strikers: Stefan Antonijevic
Stefan Antonijevic is in his second year with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Standing at 6' 5" he is one of the tallest outfield players in the NASL.
The 25-year-old Serbian youth international was selected by Sporting Kansas City with the 43rd overall pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. He trained with Sporting KC and the Chicago Fire and also abroad with Spartak Zlatibor Voda in the Serbian top division and HNK Rijeka in Croatia before returning to play in the U.S., signing with the Strikers in March 2013.
At the collegiate level, Antonijevic played at Marquette University in 2007 before transferring to Valparaiso University two years later where he was named the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. He tallied eight goals and had three assists in 59 appearances for the Crusaders.
Antonijevic is a regular starter on the defensive line under Gunter Kronsteiner. The center back has started 20 out of 22 NASL matches since Kronsteiner took charge last Fall season.
1. If you didn't become a professional soccer player, what other profession do you think you might have pursued?
Stefan Antonijevic: I would have to say basketball player, and I say that because I have a couple of cousins who are also very tall and play basketball in Serbia. I would've followed in their path.
2. What is an achievement or accomplishment in your soccer career?
SA: Right now the most fun part for me was signing here in Fort Lauderdale. Coming out of college, I was given this opportunity to play professionally here. That's great.
3. What is your favorite hobby outside of your soccer career? What do you like to do in your leisure/free time?
SA: This is going to surprise a lot of people. I'm actually learning to play the piano. I like to think that I have some type of a Beethoven rhythm (smiles). One hobby that is not so surprising is ping pong (table tennis). I really like to play ping pong.
4. Which professional soccer league in the world do you consider to be the strongest and most competitive league?
SA: I have to say the English Premier League. You can look at other leagues, too, I think Spain is competitive, Italy, Germany, but only three or four teams in those leagues, maybe. But in England, overall, there are perhaps 6 to 8, maybe 10 quality teams that compete in the top half of the standings.
5. Do you have a favorite soccer club, or one that you may have cheered for while growing up?
SA: Yes, of course, ever since I could remember I grew up supporting Red Star Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda) in Serbia. My father Zelimir Antonijevic played professional soccer in the former Yugoslavia for a different team, OFK Belgrade, but for me it was Red Star all the way.
5. Who is your favorite soccer player?
SA: Zinedine Zidane of France, Sinisa Mihajlovic of Serbia and this is probably a crazy one, but another player that I really enjoyed watching when he played was Gabriel Batistuta of Argentina who played for Fiorentina in Italy.
6. What music do you listen to on your iPod -- do you have a favorite singer and/or band that you like listening to?
SA: I'm very open-minded when it comes to music; Serbian music, rock, hip hop.
7. What is your favorite sport besides soccer?
SA: Volleyball, which is a very popular sport in Serbia.
8. Who do you think will win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?
SA: Brazil or Germany.
9. What is your favorite food here in South Florida?
SA: Colombian food.
10. Who has had an impact in your soccer career and how?
SA: Hristo Stoichkov coached me while in Chicago.
11. Do you have a favorite color?