Aussies Abroad: Susak's Chinese takeaway

After stints in Europe and Australia, former Brisbane and Adelaide defender Milan Susak is taking a lot from his time with Chinese club Tianjin Teda.

When they call a player mobile, they probably don-t quite mean it in the manner of Milan Susak. After stints in Australia, Serbia, Germany and Indonesia, the former Brisbane and Adelaide defender is now in the Chinese Super League with Tianjin Teda.

Sydney-born Susak joined the club in February from Adelaide United and, after an early setback, has hit the ground running in China.

Susak might be best known for his role in Brisbane Roar's outstanding 2010-11 Hyundai A-League season but the well-travelled 28-year-old has a wealth of stories from his football career abroad.

"Playing in China has been a good experience so far," Susak said.

"I am enjoying it. It's different to the A-League, that's for sure. But I'm enjoying it. In China we do much more work with the ball. In Australia we train much harder and it is more physical.

"I am really enjoying it. Tianjin Teda is a big club. The fans love their football here."

Susak believes the club can rise up the table from the current position of 10th.

Tianjin Teda have no chance of making the AFC Champions League group stages but the Australian revealed it has not been a priority at the club after a slow start to the competition.

And he feels a top-three finish - targeted by the club's owners - is possible if they can play like they did at Shanghai Shenhua, when Susak and his teammates ruined Nicolas Anelka's first match as player-manager with a 1-0 away win.

"We had a really good game against Shanghai," he said.

"We held the ball a lot and didn't let Anelka get involved that much. It's always great to play against players like that.

"He has got a lot of pressure on him because he is earning big money. Anelka was going out wide a lot to go and collect the ball. I didn't have much work from him that game but it was great to win."

Susak did not have the luxury of playing in his home country as he matured as a player and a person.

One gets the feeling that his football career and experience might not have been as interesting and varied if Australia had a thriving national competition when he finished school, but it still made things tough at the time for the then-18-year-old.

With the National Soccer League teetering on the brink of collapse, Susak left Sydney Olympic to Serbia where he spent five seasons with FK Vojvodina.

"The NSL was falling apart in Australia so I thought I had better go overseas and try to find somewhere where I could train and play professionally."

"My family is from Serbia and I still have an uncle and a grandfather over there so I lived them. I started with a two week trial and stayed for five years. It was a great experience."

Loan stints at Veternik and CSK Pivara were also part of Susak's time in Serbia before he returned home briefly with Adelaide United.

The Aussie quickly packed his bags though as he linked up with Unterhaching in Germany for two seasons.

Susak has only the highest praise to offer the set-up of German football and regrets the fact that Unterhaching finished just one point off achieving promotion back to the second tier in his first season at the club.

A serious ankle injury interrupted his second season before then-Brisbane Roar boss Ange Postecoglou came calling.

"Ange went to Germany to talk to Thomas Broich and he also called me at the time and we had a chat. He wanted to come and watch one of my games against Dynamo Dresden but had to leave back to Australia."

"He called me up though and told me his ideas for the football club. Ange remembered me from Adelaide United and wanted to see my DVD's. I ended up coming back and signing for a season."

And what a season it turned out to be.

Brisbane ended the season with an unbeaten streak of 26 matches, which included a remarkable 2010-11 A-League Grand Final win against the Central Coast Mariners.

Trailing 2-0 with four minutes of extra time to play, goals from Henrique and Erik Paartalu took the match to penalties, in which Brisbane proved victorious.

Susak - who played 102 minutes of the decider before being substituted - joyously recalled a famous day in Australian football.

"The way everything happened... It's something that we won't see again in a long time."

"The run we had, to be undefeated for so long. And then the final, down 2-0 and winning. That's something that every footballer dreams of. That is something that is one of the highlights of my career."

A brief stint at Minangkabau FC in the Liga Primer Indonesia - a rebel league not recognised by the Football Association of Indonesia - followed before Susak decided to leave the country when talk of six-month and one-year bans for players involved in the competition started to surface.

Again he returned to Adelaide United, a place he holds dear to heart. He owns a house in Adelaide now and offered it as a potential destination in the future of his football career.

Although the introduction of a Western Sydney based team in the A-League excites Susak - who was born in Fairfield - he is happy playing in China for now.

And Tianjin Teda might be determined to keep their man if he can repeat the form he showed with Brisbane just a couple of years ago.