It was quite a news in 2016 when the Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced that the club had acquired Hungarian striker Nemanja Nikolic via transfer from Legia Warsaw of Poland’s top division. After running a successful course, the player now announced his split from the team with some emotional lines.
“When a period of time is intense, if you concentrate and perform on daily basis, time passes by quickly. It was a massive three years for me and my family. When I look at the memories I had in Chicago, I realize the huge amount of action that happened to me in the U.S. It was a big jump. We went far from home. A new language and a new environment. Different schools for the kids – and our third child has born. People were skeptical about the adventure, but the unknown challange motivated me and, luckily, I proved quickly that my decision was right and I could keep the standards I had at Videoton and then at Legia.
Everybody knows I am a team player. For me the TEAM is what really counts. Although I am a striker. My ambition gives me power – I want to score goals, because in the long run goals decide my performance. In my first year with the Fire, we got the team to the playoffs and I won the MLS Golden Boot for the first time in the club’s history. It was the third country I became the top scorer and it was the fourth consecutive year that I won – ahead of fantastic players. I managed to break club records too. I won ESPN’s ESPY Award for Best MLS Player and made the MLS All-Star team. Recognitions from professionals and from supporters.
My relationship with the Hungarian fans is unique. They were behind me all the way. They followed my career in the U.S. I could see HUN flags in the stands from San José to Orlando. I am honored to have represented Hungary and Hungarian soccer while playing in MLS. I did what I could. I have never missed a single training session or game due to injury. I must thank our medical staff for that as well. Of course, there were ups and downs, but I was able to climb back, I never lost sight, and I learned a lot from these situations. Three seasons, 104 matches, 56 goals across all competitions. Americans say, “Do your job!” I think I fulfilled my task. I want to thank to Mr. Nelson Rodríguez. He was a true gentleman with me and my family, he did everything for me to make my time successful. Thanks to Mr. Hauptman for providing a professional environment for us. Huge respect to the coaching team, especially to Veljko who believed in me and appreciated me for who I am and helped me improve my game and let me do my best on the pitch. Joe Mansueto, the new owner, I want to wish you all the best. He is positive and passionate and beautiful days are coming to the Fire soccer community. Without the TEAM — and my fantastic teammates — this adventure could not have been such an amazing fairytale.
Big thanks to all the Fire staff members I have worked with during my time in Chicago. And last but not least, the Fire supporters! The sport is for YOU. And YOU deserve the best. From day one, YOU have made me feel at home. Your friendship and support made this period special. YOU will always be a big part of my life. YOU are great. It was a pleasure playing for YOU and fighting for success. I wish YOU a bright and happy future!”