Stefan Colovic’s time as a Dundalk player came to an end last week when he completed a move to Serbian SuperLiga club FK Čukarički for an undisclosed fee.
The Argus had exclusively revealed that the winger could be on his way out of Oriel Park earlier this month just one year into a two year deal having signed from Proleter Novi Sad last February.
The 26-year-old departs having made just 25 appearances for the club, scoring once from the penalty spot in the 3-1 defeat away to Sligo Rovers in August and contributing five assist.
His legacy of being arguably the most expensive deal in the club’s history means that Colovic being offloaded from the wage bill is something of a coup for a club who have been more wary in recent months of handing out lavish deals.
Speaking after completing his move back to Serbia, however, Colovic said he “couldn’t take” the loneliness of living in Ireland having been isolated here for several months after the league was halted just days after his debut away in the 4-0 win away to Finn Harps in Ballybofey back in March.
“Everyone asks me why I came back but I had to, I couldn’t take it anymore,” said Colovic.
“I went from Proleter to the Republic of Ireland out of a desire to change something. I needed new challenges. I spent the best three years in Proleter but I was fed up.
“An offer arrived from Dundalk, the conditions were good and there was no reason for me not to leave but I was literally alone for 10 months because of Covid.
“No one could come to me because the whole country was locked down. I literally went crazy. I wasn’t interested in money anymore, absolutely nothing, just to leave.
“In addition, I realised that I could not go anywhere further from that league. You just play there and that’s it. I was no longer satisfied.
“I met a lot of good people (in Dundalk) but if someone had told me before the trip to Ireland that it would be like that, I would not have accepted the offer.
“There is no point in struggling and being unhappy. I wanted to go back to my country and play football. I feel our league is a better standard. Players should not leave Serbia at any cost, although I understand when they leave because the situation is difficult.
“In Ireland there are two or three teams, the others are weak. It is not easy to play in Ireland, you are constantly pressing, running.
Colovic’s new club FK Čukarički currently sit fourth in the Serbian SuperLiga table and are next in action competitively on February 6th when they travel to face 16th placed Indija when the former Dundalk man will be hoping to make his debut.
Stefan Čolović’s days as a Dundalk FC player could be coming to an end with the Serbian on the verge of departing Oriel Park after just one season.
The 26-year-old winger was signed by former Lilywhites boss Vinny Perth last February from Proleter Novi Sad but never really hit the heights expected having made just 15 starts and nine substitute appearances last season, scoring just once – a penalty in the 3-1 defeat away to Sligo Rovers after Perth had been sacked last August.
Čolović is under contract for next season but sporting director Jim Magilton confirmed to The Argus on Sunday that Dundalk were happy to facilitate an early exit amid reports that the player was home sick.
Čolović had spent most of the original lockdown in isolation having only made his debut six days before the league was shut down due to Covid-19 in the 4-0 win away to Finn Harps last March.
Confirming reports of the winger’s impending exit, Magilton said Dundalk fans unfortunately never got to see the best of Čolović.
“Stefan is in negotiations with other clubs,” he confirmed.
“He has attracted attention from abroad and it’s just a case of waiting to see how that goes.
“I think a set of circumstances have led him to this point and we probably didn’t see the best of him.
“He’s obviously a very good player but unfortunately I don’t think Dundalk fans got to see the best of him and with the situation with Covid and I think the boy is particularly home sick.
“The club are working behind the scenes to help him as much as they can. I think the club have shown great compassion to these lads as well. I think it’s an ongoing thing with him.”
Magilton also confirmed that he expected Will Patching, another Perth recruit from the last season, to depart despite also having a year to run on his deal.
“I’ve had a conversation with Will and we’re waiting to hear back from Will so as it stands it’s a case pending for us and we’ll take it from there but it’s probably likely that Will will leave,” he said.
Dundalk FC will be without new signing Stefan Colovic for Friday’s league opener against Derry City as he awaits a work permit to join the SSE Airtricity League champions.
The Lilywhites announced the acquisition of the Serbian winger from Proleter Novi Sad last week with the 25-year-old having agreed a two year deal at Oriel Park, with the club having an option of a third.
The former Atletico Madrid trainee, who has also played for Red Star and Partizan Belgrade, meets the criteria for a work permit to play in Ireland but there is no exact time frame for when his paperwork will be processed.
It is understood that Colovic – who scored 16 goals and 12 assists in his 87 games for Proleter Novi Sad – turned down interest from South Korea and elsewhere in Europe to join Dundalk.
Colovic is described as a speedy, left-footed right winger who can also play as a split-striker or anywhere across the front three.
He’s fluent in three languages, including English and Spanish and becomes Dundalk’s fifth close-season signing, after deals were completed to bring Cammy Smith on loan from Dundee United, Darragh Leahy from Bohemians, Will Patching from Notts County and Greg Sloggett from Derry City.
Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth said he did not wish to speak too much about his new recruit until he had arrived at Oriel Park.
He said: “He’s officially signed but we’re just waiting on the paper work for his work permit to go through.
“It shouldn’t be an issue but unfortunately at this stage we don’t know how long it will be.”
Colovic aside, John Mountney is the only other player ruled out of Friday’s game against Derry City with an ankle problem.
“We’ve allowed John more time to clean up an issue with his ankle that he had at the back end of last season but beyond that everyone should be okay for Friday,” said Perth.