Milos Degenek brings World Cup experience to Columbus Crew

Crew defender Milos Degenek heads a ball away from Portland forward Dairon Asprilla.

Since the Crew 2022 season ended in early October, Miloš Degenek has been busy.

While his teammates stayed in Columbus until late October to train, the center was granted an early release from team duties to return to Serbia, his offseason home, for a short break with his family before joining the Australian team for the World Cup in Qatar.

Degenek was also part of Australia’s World Cup squad in 2018, but was an unused substitute. In Qatar, he played just five minutes in Australia’s opening defeat to France and 15 minutes in a win over Tunisia before earning his first start of the tournament in the group stage final against Denmark. He played the full 90 minutes as Australia won and advanced to the knockout round for only the second time in their history.

Argentina's Lionel Messi and Australia's Milos Degenek fight for the ball during the World Cup.

“It was miraculous,” Degenek said. “I think we’ve done really well. We’ve exceeded what everyone thought. I think people in Australia and football fans in general thought we were going there, we’re just going to participate and then go home after three games. I . I think we proved a lot of people wrong.”

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The Socceroos’ run ended against eventual champions Argentina in the round of 16, but for Degenek, going down to Lionel Messi’s Argentina is as tolerable as defeat can be.


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