Beyond Borders is truly a special read that transcends the typical autobiography of a retired footballer. Indeed, not many footballers of international status can claim to have had such a turbulent, winding, and ultimately successful career and life as Aleksandar Duric.
As such, this is not a tedious and watered-down blow-by-blow account of his exploits on the football pitch that are prevalent on the market nowadays. Instead, Duric (with Glenn Wray) honestly takes us through his early years in Yugoslavia as he pursued his dream of becoming a successful canoeist while sifting through local rubbish dumps to help earn some money with his family.
The years that follow ultimately shape Duric’s character–from his experiences in the Bosnian War, his representation of Bosnia in the 1992 Olympics, his dabbling in smuggling to earn a crust, and his fractured relationship with his father, we can see how resilient and determined Duric was to eke out a living away from his true home, let alone eke out a footballing career.
The second half of the book details his football exploits in Hungary, Australia, China, and ultimately Singapore. For a footballer of international stature, Duric comes across as incredibly humble and truly thankful of the career he has truly earned. And boy, did he earn it–he was a late bloomer in the world of international football, and became a fully-fledged Singaporean citizen and national at an age when other players would consider retirement. By the time he retired in his early forties, the evergreen Duric had won numerous domestic and regional accolades with his domestic teams and the Singapore national team. He truly did it his own way.
Duric’s honesty is also reflected in his scathing criticism of the S-League format. Even though I couldn’t identify with this as a non-follower of Singaporean football, I nevertheless appreciated his bravery in putting forward such thoughts, and shows how much he cares about his adopted-country’s footballing fortunes.
Beyond Borders is a highly recommended read and a hidden gem that deserves more than a regional audience.
HIGHLIGHTS: Honest anecdotes of Duric’s upbringing; his account of a turbulent footballing career in Hungary and Australia; critique of Singaporean football
FULL TIME SCORE: A comprehensive 4-0 aggregate win over two legs.