Socceroos defender Milos Degenek says pressure is nothing compared to a war-torn childhood

WHO: The Socceroos are 48 hours or so away from a must-win game at the World Cup. Pressure? What pressure?

When you compare it to fleeing war-torn Yugoslavia as a child, any football game seems pathetic.

Milos Degenek and his family fled the Balkans when he was six years old, and he has blossomed into another proud migration story for the Socceroos – but when asked by Wide World of Sports how he would handle the occasion in Sunday morning’s (AEDT) clash with Tunisia, he offered a sober comparison.

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“The fact that you say ‘must-win’ game where you think there’s pressure,” he said.

“But I also told the boys the other day, this is no pressure. The pressure is me as an 18-month-old child fleeing war. The pressure is me as a six-year-old in the middle of a war.

“It’s pressure. Pressure isn’t necessarily a football game, because you can win or lose, but I don’t think anyone’s going to die – you know it’s not pressure.”

That puts things into perspective, but regardless of the stakes, he’ll still want to produce a tough and physical performance against a Tunisia side who have shown they can do the same.

“It’s just the joy of wanting to get better; to want to have something to say to your grandchildren, to your friends at home when you have coffee and say you won a match at the World Cup, then you came out of the crowd. he said.

“That’s what the boys understand and that’s how we’re going to take it. Of course we want to win the game, there’s no doubt about that. And I think everything from training yesterday is focused on that and winning that game and I think we have it. in our group if we match them in terms of strength and the desire to win will be greater, then I think we will win.”

The Socceroos were beaten by France

The MLS defender has used the term “lion mentality” in the past to try to motivate the group around him – and against a Tunisia side that showed immense fight and passion against Denmark, he believes that’s what Australia need.

“Lion mentality is either you eat or you get eaten, and that’s the simplest way to put it. I used that concept for the Peru game with the boys, I said ‘there’s bread on the table’.”

“Either we eat tonight; my children, my wife and my family eat tonight, or they eat and my children go home to bed hungry and so does my wife – and I don’t want that to happen. I use this term, and when the bread is on the table, I want to take it and make my children and my wife happy.”

But do his Socceroos team-mates feel the same way? Of course they do.

“I’ve been trying to instill that in the younger players, especially the ones who are new here and are constantly asking for advice every day. I don’t have to say things like that to Maty Ryan or Aaron Mooy, or Matty Leckie.

“They have their own ways. But most of the other guys know what I’m talking about and they understand where I’m coming from.”

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