Melbourne Heart FC’s commitment to providing a pathway for emerging stars has come to fruition in the transfer of striker Eli Babalj to former European and World Champions Red Star Belgrade.
Melbourne Heart FC-s commitment to providing a pathway for emerging stars has come to fruition in the transfer of striker Eli Babalj to former European and World Champions Red Star Belgrade.
Babalj, 20, caught the eye of Red Star manager and football legend Robert Prosinecki following a breakthrough 2011/12 season, netting nine times to propel Heart to a debut finals appearance and cement his status as a leading member of Australia-s next generation.
Head Coach John Aloisi said Babalj-s transfer to a club of Red Star-s calibre provides a clear affirmation of the Heart player development philosophy.
“Our Club has always been committed to presenting a pathway for talented youngsters, offering the training and guidance required to give players the best possible opportunity to advance their career,” Aloisi said.
“While Eli will undoubtedly be missed, we won-t unreasonably stand in the way of any player seeking to take the next step in their career.
Aloisi added: “Eli-s transformation over the past 24 months has been obvious to see, and we are delighted to have been able to play a significant part in shaping his growing career.
“It-s great our members have had the chance to see Eli transform from an unknown youngster to a future international. We will make sure there are many more of them to come.”
A Young Socceroo, Babalj arrived at Heart from the Australian Institute of Sport, demonstrating significant potential with his towering presence and incredible technique.
Following an interrupted debut season, Babalj flourished in his second campaign, drawing from the guidance provided by the Heart coaching staff to emerge as a Socceroo of the future.
Babalj said: “I-d like to thank Melbourne Heart for the opportunity they have given me to play professional football and develop as a player over the last two years.
“Hopefully, one day after my European adventure, I-ll be able to return to Melbourne and once again play for the Heart.”