Duric is now counting down the last 10 games of a professional career that has its roots in his home city of Doboj in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, now in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Duric left for a trial in Sweden aged 20, carrying only 300 Deutschmarks (then US$200) and a sports bag, and found himself trapped outside his home country when war broke out in 1991. He was not to return home for 10 years.
While playing in Hungary, Duric, a talented junior kayaker, received an offer to represent the newly formed Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Barcelona Olympics, which he reached by hitchhiking across Europe.
With a borrowed boat and paddle and little training, he did not challenge for a medal, and his family also received threats and intimidation in his Serbian-dominated home city.
The next year, Duric’s mother was killed in a bombing raid and his father was injured. His brother was a soldier in the Serbian Army.
In 1995, he seized the opportunity for a trial in Australia, motivated by the chance to gain an Australian passport and perhaps represent the Socceroos.
The following year, he started a two-season stint in China — a “tough, tough league, with a lot of traveling” — before returning to Australia. He was invited to Singapore when his club, West Adelaide, folded.
“I came here in 1999 and the rest is history,” he said, smiling.
After his retirement, Duric, who can speak six languages, hopes to take up coaching and also increase his charity work, focusing on underprivileged children and orphans in Singapore.
“I must say I’m really proud of what I achieved. For a guy who didn’t really plan this kind of journey, I did OK,” he said.