Melbourne Heart recruit Josip Skoko has revealed he had no plans to continue playing on when his contract with Croatian club Hajduk Split finished. The 34-year old former Australian international midfielder has signed a one-year deal with the new A-League club but admits he did not think about playing back in his homeland, particularly with the Heart's soon-to-be rivals Melbourne Victory, until Heart John van 't Schip came calling.
''When I made my decision to sign a two-year contract in Croatia, I thought that would be the end of my career,'' he told The Age. ''I wasn't really planning on coming home and playing - not for the Victory anyway. I met the Heart coach. He seemed young and straight away I saw his vision for the football he wanted to play. With the players they have as well, it all seemed very positive.''
And Skoko, who has also played with Wigan Athletic and Stoke City in the English Premier League, expected the Heart to be a very competitive unit in their debut season whilst rating the standard of the A-League almost on a par with that of the Croatian league.
''I think we have got a really competitive team,'' he added. ''Whether we can go all the way is hard to say, but I'll be very disappointed if we're not up the top of the table.
''Quality-wise, there are good players here and good players there, they are very similar leagues. Perhaps the Croatian league has got a bit more quality but it has been around a lot longer.''