Milos Degenek’s moving message to Australia after the tearful reaction to Socceroos’ win over Tunisia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Milos Degenek has shared a moving message about his journey ‘from absolutely nothing to winning a World Cup’ following the Socceroos’ drought-breaking win over Tunisia.

The 28-year-old came off the bench in the final 25 minutes of the 1-0 win and found himself in tears in a quiet moment in the post-match celebration.

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The result had triggered a flood of emotions towards Australia, the country that welcomed Degenek and his family when he was seven.

Degenek reflected on his journey on Saturday with a picture of families fleeing Croatia’s war of independence, as well as pictures of his emotional reaction to defeating Tunisia.

“Not a political post or a post about any war, just a post to show that life is beautiful,” he wrote.

“From absolutely nothing to winning a World Cup game. Represent the country that gave me everything.

“Thank you Australia, Socceroos. Never stop believing in yourself.”

Milos Degenek looked back on his journey with a tearful moment after defeating Tunisia. Recognition: Robert Cianflon/Getty Images
Degenek chose to represent the Socceroos over Serbia. Recognition: Robert Cianflon/Getty Images

Degenek was 18 months old when he fled the Croatian War of Independence with his Serbian family and traveled to Belgrade on a tractor for seven days.

They lived as refugees in Arandelovac, around 70 kilometers south of Belgrade. When Degenek was six years old, the Kosovo war was on his doorstep.

He recalls playing with friends, hearing sirens warning of an impending attack, then sheltering in an underground bunker and eating canned goods for up to 48 hours.

“You say a game that you absolutely have to win when you think it’s pressure … it’s not pressure,” said Degenek ahead of the game against Tunisia.

“I am under pressure as an 18-month-old baby fleeing a war. When I was six years old, I was under pressure in the middle of the war.

“It’s pressure. Pressure is not a must-play football game because you can win or you can lose, but I don’t think anyone is going to die.”

Milos Degenek fights French superstar Kylian Mbappe at the World Cup opener in Australia. Recognition: Fantastic/Getty Images

Degenek represented Australian and Serbian youth teams before settling for the Socceroos during his footballing career in Germany.

“This is more than just a game. We are all proud to represent this beautiful country,” he wrote in a separate post after Saturday’s win.

“We are all proud to wear this shirt. We will continue to do our best and make history.

“Believe in the process, trust yourself – never die mentality, lion mentality.”

Degenek’s rally to make history came after Socceroos manager Graham Arnold ordered his players to tone down their celebrations.

“I just told them that the nation is undoubtedly very proud, but we didn’t do anything,” Arnold told reporters.

“They (players) have achieved something that we can talk about after the tournament. But we are here to go as far as we can go.

“I don’t want a party… get ready for the next one.”

Graham Arnold urged his players to cool off the celebrations. Recognition: Luca Bruno/AP

Jackson Irvine said after this edict and mute celebrations, it’s going to be difficult.

“I have to acknowledge what we did and what a big deal it was … and how big it is to me and how much it means to everyone else,” Irvine said.

“But I have to simmer it and get fired again in four days.”

– with AAP

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Harry Souttar saves Australia with epic duel Milos Degenek’s moving message to Australia after the tearful reaction to Socceroos’ win over Tunisia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

James Brien

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