All Whites midfielder Marko Stamenic makes his European Champions League group stage debut

Young All Whites midfielder Marko Stamenic says he is proud to be the first New Zealander to play in the group stages of the European Champions League for 15 years.

The 20-year-old was given the passing grade by Danish media after playing the full 90 minutes of FC Copenhagen’s 0-0 draw at home to Spanish La Liga club Sevilla on Wednesday (Thursday New Zealand time). Zeeland).

He described his Champions League debut as “indescribable”.

“I can’t imagine that day would come. I watched the Champions League all my childhood [in Stokes Valley in Wellington]” he said in a video interview on FC Copenhagen’s website.

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Stamenic said he was also aware “that it is rare for a New Zealander to play in the Champions League.

“I think we only had two or three players to do it.

“It’s a huge achievement for both me and my family and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have and I hope to build on that and keep pushing forward and I hope to help the team get even not one point but three points for the next Game.”

He said it was “an amazing experience” to step out in front of large crowds at Parken Stadium, which FC Copenhagen shares with the Denmark national team.

“I wish my family were there to see it, but I know they were cheering [watching] their TV at home.

Stamenic got an attacking free kick in the 32nd minute and was shown a yellow card in the 82nd minute as Copenhagen picked up their first group point against Europa League champions Sevilla.

He said he was “very ambitious for my performance” and “always looking at things I could do better”, but felt he showed “I’m ready and want to play; that’s the most important thing.”

Stamenic, who has been in Copenhagen since 2020, played in central midfield against a Sevilla side featuring potential World Cup stars Ivan Rakitic (Croatia), Thomas Delaney (Denmark) and Alex Telles (Brazil).

It also got a passing grade from one of Denmark’s largest national newspapers, Jyllands-Posten, who said “the new zealander had his chance in midfield, where he delivered a good effort despite a few misses at times”.

FC Copenhagen's Marko Stamenic, pictured in a qualifying game against Trabzonspor, made his European Champions <a class=League group stage debut.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

Supplied/Getty Images

FC Copenhagen’s Marko Stamenic, pictured in a qualifying game against Trabzonspor, made his European Champions League group stage debut.

Tabloid Ekstra Bladet gave Stamenic a rating of 3 out of 5 “worth it”saying he started off shy, but ‘after that Stamenic played a bit and also got better with the ball’.

Stamenic was an unused substitute in Copenhagen’s previous 3-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga.

But his performance against Sevilla could put him as part of Copenhagen’s upcoming Champions League assignment against English champions Manchester City on October 6.

He was also hoping it would boost his chances of starting the next Danish Super League clash in Copenhagen with FC Midtjylland – Winston Reid’s first professional club – on Sunday (Monday NZ time) after playing extensively on the bench in the national competition this season.

Stamenic became the first New Zealander to feature in the Champions League group stages since former All Whites striker Chris Killen made a start and four substitute appearances for Glasgow Celtic in 2007-08.

FC Copenhagen's Marko Stamenic in action against Trabzonspor in August.  (File photo).

Supplied/Getty Images

FC Copenhagen’s Marko Stamenic in action against Trabzonspor in August. (File photo).

Killen’s departure came in a 1-0 loss to Portuguese side Benfica, and his highlight was coming off the bench in the 84th minute of a 2-1 win over AC Milan.

Sevilla topped possession against Copenhagen, 63% to 37% and went 11-for-seven, with both sides having two shots on target.

Stamenic was playing alongside Copenhagen’s Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan, who is expected to be his opponent next week when the All Whites take on the Socceroos in Brisbane and Auckland.

The Wellingtonian became a first-choice All Whites last season after making his international debut in 2021.

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