"I always want more," Damjanovic on his 30th ACL goal
Suwon: Montenegrin Dejan Damjanovic completed yet another milestone in his storied career in Asia, when the striker scored his 30th goal in the AFC Champions League against Shanghai Shenhua to become second all-time scorer in the tournament.
Unquestionably one of the most prolific players to participate in the AFC Champions League since the tournament revamp in 2002-2003, made more history on March 13 when Suwon Samsung Bluewings forward Damjanovic fired in his third goal of the 2018 campaign.
Not only did the strike end the deadlock with China's Shanghai Shenhua and pave the way to a 2-0 win that keeps the Koreans firmly on track for a place in the Round of 16, but it was the 36-year-old's 30th goal in the AFC Champions League, leaving him out alone in second place on the all-time scorers list.
The-AFC.com caught up with the former Montenegro international to reflect on his achievements so far.
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Hello Dejan, congratulations on your 30th AFC Champions League goal and becoming second all-time highest scorer of the tournament. How does it feel to reach this accomplishment?
Thanks, and I feel great to be honest. It’s a really big thing because this is the strongest competition in Asia and I constantly scored goals against the best teams from all leagues in Asia. I hope I can continue doing this all the games to come.
What do you feel is the reason you personally have been able to enjoy so much success in the AFC Champions League?
I think, first and most important, I’m good at scoring goals! Secondly, I’m really ambitious and I’m never satisfied with myself. I always want more and I always want to be better. I think this attitude has kept me on the top of my game for a long time and keeps pushing me still.
I'm not sure if you remember all your continental goals, but do you have a particular favourite looking back?
Hmmm, I can’t remember all of them but my favorites were against Guangzhou Evergrande in the 2013 AFC Champions League. I scored in both games when we needed them the most and they felt awesome.
In total, your AFC Champions League goal tally to date came against 17 different teams, with Chinese clubs being the most you scored against (eight). Is there any particular opponent you like to play against?
Not really, I prepare against every opponent the same and I'm trying to score against everyone! I didn’t know about this statistic and I think maybe it’s because Chinese teams play more openly than other teams. Honestly, I really like to play against Japanese sides because they play nice football and I like to play against that style.
There’s only one man ahead of you as all-time top scorer, Korean legend Lee Dong-gook who has 35 goals to date. What are your thoughts on him?
He’s unbelievable and keeps pushing me to be better and better. He’s doing great things with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, but I will do my best to catch him!
Is it frustrating for you that despite turning 38 this year, he shows no signs of slowing having already scored three times in this year’s edition?
Ha ha! No, I’m happy that the two top scoring strikers in Asia are from the K League 1 and I know I will have my chances to catch him for the record.
And finally, what are your ambitions for the AFC Champions League this year?
I think you know the answer: I want our team to make it all the way to the final, although it’s still early to speak about our chances. I’m still yet to win the AFC Champions League title, which is something I’m missing from my career in Asia, and that’s the main goal for this year.
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