Sydney spat prompts Ninkovic to put retirement on hold

Western Sydney playmaker Milos Ninkovic says he didn’t want his last act as a player to be an ugly dressing room stoush with Steve Corica, as he aims to continue his glittering career in Australia by moving into coaching.

At the age of 38, and after tossing up retirement, the two-time Johnny Warren Medal winner will be the oldest player in the A-League Men this season – and, arguably, it’s most controversial. 

Ninkovic caused outrage last season when he made the cross-town move to join Marko Rudan’s Wanderers after a trophy-laden, seven-year stint with Sydney FC.

The Serbian maverick made the switch after falling out with Corica and the Sydney hierarchy over his status as a visa player.

The bad blood between the two sides bubbled along, reaching a climax in last year’s fiery finals derby when Sydney FC snatched a 2-1 win.

After that loss, Ninkovic sought out his former Sydney teammates to wish them well for the rest of their campaign, but was dragged out of the Sky Blues’ dressing rooms after a verbal altercation with Corica.

“I didn’t have a chance to congratulate them on the pitch after that game,” Ninkovic told AAP.

“That’s the past, I don’t want to think about it but, yeah, I didn’t want it to finish that way.

“So far, I think I’ve done some great things in this league and I knew I didn’t want to finish like that.

“I still have a good relationship with some players there but we all move on.”

Ninkovic has been given no assurances over his playing time for the 2023-24 campaign in which the Wanderers are keen to use last year’s drought-breaking finals appearance as a springboard for more.

“I’m going day by day but most likely this is going to be my last year,” Ninkovic said.

“I can play as a No 10, left wing… or right back – whatever it is, I’ll do it to help the team because that’s what I’ve done my whole career.

“It had been a long time since this club last made the finals and now we have even more pressure to stay there. We are not happy (just) to be in the top four.”

Ninkovic – a three-time ALM champion – hopes that he can replicate his on-field success in the dugout, although he’s adamant he wants to work his way up the coaching ranks.

“You need to make mistakes and it’s better to make mistakes with kids and go step by step,” he said.

“Hopefully one day I can be a coach of an A-League club.”