CHARLESTOWN marquee Ljubo Milicevic says he will never shake Newcastle Jets Youth coach and CEO Lawrie McKinna’s hand and he has no regrets about refusing to last Sunday.
The former Newcastle and Socceroos centre-back was involved in an exchange with McKinna after the Jets Youth downed the Blues 1-0 in round 11 of the Northern NSW NPL at Lisle Carr Oval.
Milicevic refused to shake hands with McKinna and co-coach Labinot Haliti and later took to social media to explain his actions.
“Do you forget you don't want me at Jets club events? How I was specifically told that it's in the club’s best interest to not have me at the Legends game earlier in the year?” he posted.
He also criticised Jets head coach Ernie Merrick, who he played under at Melbourne Victory, and former Newcastle teammate Haliti. He told the Herald on Wednesday he had no regrets.
“If they don’t invite you back to the club where you gave your heart and soul, where you captained and had a real affinity with the fans, and you just carry on and shake their hand? No way,” he said.
“For one year to play in the Legends game and it’s all good, then the next year when Ernie Merrick is appointed coach, now the club deem it necessary to tell me via different channels that Ljubo is no longer welcome at the club and it’s in the best interests of the club that he's no longer part of it. I don’t know how I’m not supposed to take that as an insult.
“If you have made it known that you don’t want me around, then that’s fine, but I don’t pretend anymore. I don’t come shake your hand and act like it’s cool, because it’s not.”
Milicevic featured for the Jets in a seven-a-side Legends Challenge game, an A-League curtain-raiser, in April 2017, but he was not part of the second edition last October.
McKinna confirmed the club decided Milicevic could not represent the Jets because of his criticism of then incoming coach Merrick on social media.
“How can we put him in the Legends team when he comes out and slags the head coach?,” McKinna said.
“That would be normal business practice. As the CEO of the club, it would not be a good look to play someone who has come out and slandered the head coach.”
Milicevic was also upset he had not been invited to Old Boys’ events. McKinna, though, rejected claims the club had played any role.
“We’ve never said anything about any other event,” McKinna said.
“It was only about that [Legends] game. We just didn’t think it was right that he would represent the club.
“Any other Old Boys’ events, the guys who invited the grand final team and all that, they do that all themselves. We don’t get involved.”
Milicevic, 37, said he still loved the Jets club and team but “I don’t care about the administrators. I never have.”
“I shook every players’ hand and told them well done. I shook all the young boys’ hands, regardless of what was going on on the field,” he said.
“And we all get cheeky at times, we all want to win, that’s all fine.
“There’s a few young talents there and I believe the No.10 and one of the centre-backs could kick on.”
McKinna said “there was no malice” in his actions on Sunday.
“I just wanted to shake his hand at the end of the game, because we had just played them. It was a hard-fought game, and that’s as simple as that,” he said.