Jakov Medic 1

Jakov Medic: "Player union training camp was important for my career"

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Jakov Medic 1

More than 30 FIFPRO member unions organise training camps for out-of-contract players. Jakov Medic joined the training camp of Croatian player union HUNS in 2017. The camp gave his career an important boost and he now plays for Dutch giants Ajax.

By Jakov Medic

In the summer of 2017, I was 18 and didn't have a club. I had played one year at NK Istra in the Croatian top flight and I could not continue there. I had a hard time finding another club.

I talked about it with my uncle, Dario Simic, who at the time was the president of Croatian player union HUNS. My uncle played 100 times for our country and won two Champions League titles with AC Milan.

He informed me about the training camp that the union organises each year for footballers who are looking for a new contract. He told me I could go there, train with other professional footballers and play friendly matches against professional teams. It was a chance for me to show my talent and to prove that I could play professional football.  

The camp lasted two weeks and the team was a mix of young and old players who had played in the first division or abroad. The team had two coaches, who were taking care of every training session, and had physios as well. It felt as if we were a real professional club, not just a bunch of players coming together from everywhere. We were training as professional players.

The union arranged that all players were happy and together. There was a positive atmosphere, as everyone had the same goal: finding a new club. I met a lot of players, learned from their experience, and heard stories about their careers.

As I was only 18, it was good to be around experienced and good players. It is so much better than training on your own. There are exercises that you cannot do on your own, and you need other players to get match fit.  

The camp helped me a lot mentally: it helped me gain self-confidence and I knew I could play professional football. I felt like a player.

Jakov Medic 3
Jakov Medic celebrates scoring for Ajax

We had a couple of friendly games and we also participated in a FIFPRO Tournament, where we had matches against teams from player unions from Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. In total, I played three matches and I scored in the semi-final against Slovenia. We won the tournament, which was held in the stadium of Dinamo Zagreb, not the big one, but the second pitch. There were a lot of coaches from various clubs, including some of Dinamo’s, which was nice.

After my first match at the tournament, the president of Vinogradar, a third league team, called my father five times, telling him that I had to come to his club. And I went. It was the right step. As a young player it is important that you are playing and not sitting on the bench. You need to play games to gain experience and confidence, and I got that opportunity at Vinogradar.

Half-a-year later, German club 1. FC Nurnberg wanted me. They had seen a video of me and invited me for a trial. During my first day of training, I convinced them and they signed me.

It was a new chapter in my life, and it was challenging: I was still young (19), living without family in a new country, with new people and a new language. I grew a lot. I am proud of how I developed myself. I went from the bottom to the top. From having no club, to the third league in Croatia, then to the fourth level in Germany, the second Bundesliga, and to Ajax, where I signed last summer.

Medic Wiesbaden
Medic at German side SV Wehen Wiesbaden
Medic St Pauli
Medic at St Pauli
Jackov Medic 2
Medic at Ajax

I had a challenging year at Ajax. The club had one of its worst seasons. This is football. But it is also a big experience for me.

It was special that I joined such a big club. I would have loved to have played more minutes this season, but I am still behind my decision to join this special club. Everyone knows what Ajax is about.

You always have to give it your best in practice because you never know when your opportunity comes. The coach might need you for the next game and then you have to be ready to show what you can do. If you are not ready, then you might not get any more chances.

Football is tough, and that’s why you need to be mentally strong. I need to be patient and keep working hard, and then everything will be better. They always say: ‘after rain comes sunshine’.

The union’s training camp was good for my career. It gave me the confidence that I was prepared to go to another club. I can recommend players who don’t have a contract to go and train with the union because they will help you prepare for the future.