Alen Halilović has publicly said it was a mistake leaving FC Barcelona for Hamburger SV back in 2016.
The Croatian midfielder now plays for Fortuna Sittard in the Eredivisie, but he was once tipped as a future world star.
He made his debut for Dinamo Zagreb at just 16 years old, and then signed for Barcelona B.
“Tottenham wanted to buy me but Barcelona was for my style. They were about possession and the ball at your feet. The first year I was to play Barca B, then they would loan me to La Liga and in the third year they would decide,” he said in a new interview.
“The first two years were perfect at Barca but I expected I would get a chance at the first team in the third. Then I realised Luis Enrique did not see me there.”
Halilović spent a year on loan at Sporting Gijón in the 2015-16 season.
“I was supposed to stay one more year as I was doing really well. I expected to go to Euros with the national team but didn’t get selected and Barca decided I had to go out on loan again, so I was a little frustrated with everything. I did not want to go out again, so I said ‘F*** it, I go from here’.”
That’s when he joined Hamburg in the summer of 2016.
“When you are young, you think you don’t have time and I had to be ahead of (Andres) Iniesta and Xavi (at Barca). Looking now, I just needed to be patient. Train and wait. It will come,” he said.
“I learned a lot even just training with the first team and got to play with (Lionel) Messi, who was my idol. He is not from this world so I expected it, but (Sergio) Busquets really surprised me. He is the best player I have ever trained with.”
He went on to play for Las Palmas, AC Milan, Standard Liège, Heerenveen, Birmingham City, Reading, and Rijeka before joining his current club.
Despite all that, he’s still relatively young and motivated to make his mark.
“I’m 27, so I have 10 more years of football and I’m motivated to show that I can be at the top level,” he said.