One 2 Watch – Alen Halilovic

by Neil Sherwin

16 | Attacking midfielder | Dinamo Zagreb | Croatian

Ah 1996. Three Lions swept a nation, the Spice Girls topped the charts with Wannabe, and Major League Soccer got underway. Fun times.

It’s also the year that Dinamo Zagreb’s latest emerging talent, Alen Halilovic, was born.

Leaving aside the  scary fact that someone born after the Oasis/Blur feud is now playing professional football, the 16 year old could be set for big things and this week made his Champions League debut against Paris St Germain.

Halilovic has already made an impression domestically too, becoming the youngest player to debut in the Croatian top flight when he took to the field aged 16 years and 102 days on September 27.

He also scored in only his second senior game when he raced on to a pass and calmly lifted the ball over the keeper into the net

Having only signed a professional contract in the summer, Halilovic is now the youngest player ever to score in the Croatian top flight.

“I enjoy playing for Dinamo,” he says.

“This is what I dreamed about when I started to play football. The reason I started was because I wanted to be like my dad: to play for Dinamo Zagreb.”

While some people are already getting carried away, comparing him to Lionel Messi and Luca Modric amongst others, Halilovic would prefer to stay grounded for not at least.

“Just don’t call me Messi,” he says.

“I admire Leo, but I am a long way from him. or now my goal is to play well and to show the coach [Ante Cacic] he can count on me.”

Of course it hasn’t taken long for him to be linked with a move the ‘holy grail’ that is the English Premier League, but with his father, former Zagreb player Sead Halilovic, part of the coaching staff at Zagreb he will hopefully stay put for the time being and continue to develop.

Now if only he would cut out that heart celebration…

Author Info

Neil Sherwin

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com and BackPageRugby.com. Writes mostly on Premier League, A-League and MLS with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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