From the stands to the pitch: Milanovic

Nicolas Milanovic is no stranger to the Sydney Derby, not only as a player where he appeared in three hotly contested Derby matches since joining the club, but also as a fan.

Growing up in and around the Penrith area, Milanovic and his family were Wanderers fans from day one, and Milanovic says the clubs close bond with the community and culture of Western Sydney was a key reason he got behind the Wanderers in those early days.

“When I was a young young kid, there was no Western Sydney A-League club or a club of any sort, it was just Sydney FC. I know my family never really supported Sydney FC and didn’t like that there wasn’t a (Western Sydney) team,” said Milanovic.

“I think especially representing the whole West, everyone in the West that when that club came about you saw straightaway, the fans were number one straight off the bat, up there with the (Melbourne) Victory and Sydney FC, because there’s so much passion in the West for football. It’s so multicultural, dominated by so many cultures. And they all love football, so you just knew it was gonna be like that.”

Milanovic was 10-years-old in the clubs first season, and he still has vivid memories of attending many games in the first years of the clubs existence and how he was gripped by passion for the club right from the off.

“I just remember loving to go to every game, especially the Fridays after school or Saturday after our games that we played. Just being a little mischievous, (us) boys sneaking into the RBB and chanting along.

“I remember going to the Brisbane grand final away marching in that, Adelaide away marching in that. I would go to so many away games with my dad, just because we love the club.

“Now to see fans cheering me on doing that, it’s a big privilege, especially this game, because it has just a bit more fire to it.”

They are certainly chanting his name this season, as the exciting attacker has been one of the top performers in a Wanderers side sitting top of the table after four matches.

Milanovic – and the entire teams – best performance to date came in round two against his former club Western United, where Milanovic scored twice and the Wanderers were ahead 5-0 at half-time.

He has formed a great combination with new signings Lachlan Brook and Marcus Antonsson, as well as last season’s top scorer Brandon Borrello, and he will look to continue that at Allianz Stadium this weekend.

The stadium was a happy hunting ground for the Red & Black last season, as they won both matches at the venue in differing circumstances.

The first match back in November was a tight tussle settled by Kusini Yengi’s wonderful solo effort in the second half, whilst the game in March saw the Wanderers put in their most complete performance of the season as they dismantled their rivals 4-0; Milos Ninkovic bagged two assists against his former club.

For Milanovic, the Sydney Derby is the biggest in the league, and he knows the importance of getting bragging rights in the city as a fan.

“It is the biggest derby, it’s bigger for me than – and I think a lot of people will agree with me even [from] interstate – I think it’s bigger than the Melbourne derbies and all those derbies.

“For the fans – speaking as I was one – it’s more than just the game, It’s getting one up getting one up on them. That’s why I think we’re so fired up for the fans to bring their support and to cheer us on, because that’s what gets us through.”