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From world champion to trying to get into Atletico side at 22

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 4,203

Pin Saponjic is trying to get into the Atletico Madrid side. EFE
Saponjic is trying to get into the Atletico Madrid side. EFE

From world champion to trying to get into Atletico side at 22

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 4,203

This Saturday, it is five years since the striker Ivan Saponjic became a world champion for Serbia U20s. At 22, he is looking for a spot in the Atletico Madrid side after being one of the most surprising signings made by Atletico Madrid.

It is five years this Saturday since the striker Ivan Saponjic conquered the world with Serbia U20s. He was the indisputable hero for them during the World Cup in New Zealand. Today, he is playing for Atletico Madrid, but has hardly got a chance this season. He has played just two matches or 64 minutes all season and without the protafonism of them, when he was an indispensible goalscorer for his national team. 

"It's been five years since one of the greatest success stories of Serbian football. It means a lot for me and I'll remember it for ever" We are the golden generation of our country," he explained in comments to Atletico Madrid's official website. That game saw Serbia beat Brazil 2-1 after extra-time. 

"It the most beautiful match and victory. It was a lovely feeling to get such a big achievement with your country. The whole country helped us. The reception in Serbia was unbelievable. We were received by 80,000 people. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my career, something indescribable," the striker recalls. 

"He was 17. "I was happy with my performance, bearing in mind that I was the youngest of the team. It was a good experience for me and I learnt a lot from the coach Veljko Paunovic and his assistants." Without Saponjic, it would not have been possible because he scored many times up until the final. 

He scored to force extra-time against Hungary in the last 16. He got a goal against USA which later saw Serbia beat them on penalties in the quarters and then he netted the winning goal in extra-time against Mali in the 2-1 win in the semi-final. 

"It was an important goal which sent us to the final but the one against Hungary in the last minute which made it 1-1. I'll remember it for ever," the Serbian attacker explained. "We were a great team and that allowed us to get that achievement. We played a lot of extra-times and we always won. We had a strong mentality and we were all united."

Five years later, Saponjic plays for Atletico. Signed last summer from the Benfica academy, his appearances have been few and far between in competitive games under Diego Simeone. Just 54 mnutes against Cultural Leonesa in the 2-1 loss in the Copa del Rey and 10 minutes in the 0-0 draw with Leganes in La Liga. They were on 23rd and 26th January. 

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