Montenegrin-born striker Ilija Spasojevic could soon be turning out in the red and white of Indonesia after gaining citizenship on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old first moved to Indonesia in 2011 and has spent six of the last seven season plying his trade in the Southeast Asian country.
He previously had spells with PSM Makassar, Mitra Kukar and Persib Bandung but is now leading the line for high-flying Liga 1 outfit Bhayangkara, following a spell in Malaysia with Melaka United.
Akhirnya Saya Indonesia! ?????? – Saya berharap suatu saat saya akan memakai seragam Merah Putih kebanggaan "Garuda" di Timnas Indonesia. Saya mohon dukungan seluruh masyarakat dan pecinta sepak bola di tanah air. Salam hormat untuk PSSI yang telah memberi banyak bantuan agar keinginan ini terealisasi. Proud to be Indonesian!
Spasojevic has represented Montenegro at Under-21 level but is now eligible to be selected by Merah-Putih, a prospect he hopes to realise in the near future.
“Finally, I’m Indonesian!” he said in Indonesian in a post on his official Instagram account.
“I hope one day I will proudly wear the red and white uniform of the ‘Garuda’ of the Indonesian national team.
“I ask for all the support from the football lovers and community in this country.
Satu lagi pesepakbola asing yang SAH menjadi Warga Negara Indonesia! https://t.co/8T3XMB8kpH
— FOX Sports Indonesia (@FOXSportsIndo) October 26, 2017
“Sincere gratitude to PSSI [Football Association of Indonesia], who have helped me greatly in realising this dream.”
And, signing off in English, he added: “Proud to be Indonesian!”
Standing at 1.87m and blessed with strength, intelligence and deadly finishing, Spasojevic could yet play a role in helping Indonesian football continue its recent resurgence following the end an international ban imposed on them by FIFA.
Boaz Solossa and Lerby Eliandry both led the line admirably last year as Garuda made it to the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup, but Spasojevic could offer a much different threat in the final third.
He has netted seven times thus far this season to help Bhayangkara made a genuine bid to become the first-ever Liga 1 champions in the competition’s inaugural season.