JOZO SIMUNOVIC will celebrate his 29th birthday next month pondering his next move in football.
The former Celtic fan’s favourite is on the look-out for a new club – yet again.
The Croatian centre-back has not kicked a ball in competitive action since being released by HNK Gorica last summer.
Simunovic made a mere eight appearances for his homeland club after being out of the game for over a year following his exit from the Hoops in July 2020.
HAMPDEN HEROES…Scott Brown and Jozo Simunovic show off their medals after the 3-0 League Cup win over Aberdeen in 2016.
The former Under-21 back-four operator, who was brought to Parkhead by ex-boss Ronny Deila in a £4million move from Dinamo Zagreb in September 2015, has struggled for game time since suffering a knee injury four years later.
He turned out only 16 times for the champions in his final campaign before the club decided not to activate the remaining 12 months clause in his contract.
Simunovic won five titles with the Hoops and his final outing came in the home 3-1 Europa League loss to FC Copenhagen on February 27 2020 when he unfortunately gifted the Danes the opening goal with a calamitous back pass just after the interval.
His stay in Glasgow was plagued by injury. He underwent a knee operation and also suffered knee ligament damage when he missed a huge chunk of another season.
Following his departure from the Hoops, Simunovic was linked with Turkish clubs Trabzonspor and Goztepe, but no deals materialised. It was an identical story with Croatia outfit Rijeka.
There were reports Bundesliga duo Stuttgart and Augsburg were showing an interest, but, frustratingly for the player, once again nothing was firmed up.
AIR WE GO…Jozo Simunovic and Nir Bitton combine to repel an Aberdeen raid.
Simunovic, though, did earn a contract with Gorica in October 2021, but, unfortunately, they did not extend the deal beyond last summer.
Now the centre-back is in soccer limbo and Simunvoic doesn’t quite know what the future holds – but he is certain he will stay in football whether as a player or in another capacity.
The defender, who insists Celtic will always have a “special place” in his heart, said: “Come the summer I will decide whether to start playing football again or not. We will see how it goes. Right now, I have a lot to be busy with. I’m at university and also doing my badges.
“I am studying sports management. I have been doing that for the last two years and I enjoy it. It’s going okay and I am combining that with my coaching qualifications.
“If I don’t go back to playing, I will stay in football — it’s really all I think about. That could be coaching, agency work or sports management. Let’s see what happens.”
Simunovic still keeps tabs on Celtic and was at Parkhead in May to see his old team draw 2-2 with St Mirren.
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the adventures of another former Celt in CQN’s EXCLUSIVE series.