Red Devil Milovanovic signs with Maldives club

DANE Milovanovic has left Ballarat Red Devils for opportunities abroad.

The 24-year-old has signed with Asian professional team New Radiant SC after an impressive  semi-professional National Premier Leagues Victoria season.

Milovanovic flew out on Wednesday to his new club, in the Republic of the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean-Arabian Sea.

Red Devils player-manager James Robinson described the central midfielders’ departure, while potentially detrimental to Red Devils’ on-field performances, as “brilliant” for the club.

“It’s fantastic for the boys (to see) that he’s got a chance to play in a full-time environment,” Robinson said.

“He’s been doing the right things. Who knows where it’s come from but somebody’s obviously seen something and liked him.

“It’s only positive for us. It give the boys a little glimpse that the chance is there and he’s got the full backing of us as a club and of me as a manager.”

Historically, New Radiant is the most successful club in the Maldivian Dhivehi League.

The club has three Dhivehi League titles and 11 FA Cup championships since its inception in 1979.

Radiant is the reigning President’s Cup and Dhivehi League champions, and signed former Real Madrid player Angel Perez Garci­a as the head coach last November.

The opening five rounds of the 2014 season sees it undefeated and on top of the ladder, two wins clear of its closest rivals.

Milovanovic will be hard pressed to make an immediate breakthrough into the senior side, but can draw plenty of positives from his form with the Red Devils after a slow start to the season.

He missed the first round through a lingering suspension and the next three due to a lack of match fitness.

A promising debut in round five against South Melbourne was just a glimpse of what was to come.

Milovanovic’s next six matches saw him score three goals and at least one

best afield performance.

He has a fine pedigree as a former Australian junior, having represented the green and gold at under-17, under-20 and under-23 level.

After spending two years at the Australian Institute of Sport, he moved to Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar in the A-League, where he played more than 30 matches in the youth competition.

He also played in the Indonesia Super League and the Hong Kong First Division, as well as in the last two Victorian Premier League grand finals with Oakleigh Cannons and the Bentleigh Greens.

Importantly, Milovanovic’s departure is a timely reminder to those playing and watching of the opportunities that can arise from the NPLV competition.

Robinson said the club would miss his presence on and off the pitch.

“He’s had a massive impact and that’s why we brought him in,” he said.

“It’s going to be a loss whenever you lose a player of Dane’s calibre, but it’s an opportunity for someone else and that’s the great thing about it.”

The Red Devils will have to make do without their star player until the mid-season transfer window opens on June 13, where Robinson expects “movements” around the league.

michael.pollock@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Dane Milovanovic in one of his handful of home games in Ballarat Red Devils colours.

Dane Milovanovic in one of his handful of home games in Ballarat Red Devils colours.

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