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Hinsdale Magazine | Sports

Djordje Mihailovic has returned for his first full season with the Chicago Fire since 2017. Photo provided by Chicago Fire Soccer Club

playing thefield Young soccer phenom bounces back from ACL injury BY MIKE ELLIS

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local professional athlete is seeking to advance his career after recovering from an ACL injury he suffered two seasons ago. Djordje Mihailovic, 20, a native of southwest suburban Lemont, grew up playing soccer on a field his father Aleks furnished for him after purchasing an adjacent property. A former professional soccer player himself, Aleks encouraged his son to play the sport from a very young age. “As soon as I could start walking, my dad probably put a ball on my foot, and I just started dribbling it,” Mihailovic said. Mihailovic committed himself to the game, and used his spacious yard to his advantage. “Every day after school, every day, every night, I would be in the backyard trying to improve something, or just play for fun,” he said. “Just always being with the ball obviously helps development as a young player. I think that my parents doing that, I was really grateful for that.” At roughly six years of age, Mihailovic started on his

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father’s club team, the Hinsdale-based Chicago Blast, which generally only embraces kids eight years and older. “As soon as I was able to play, my dad threw me right in with [the older kids],” he said. Mihailovic competed with the Blast until he was 14, when he progressed to the Chicago Fire Academy. “I think I owe what I am today, because of my time with my dad’s club,” he said. “If it wasn’t for playing for the Blast, I wouldn’t have been a professional soccer player.” Several years after commencing with the Fire academy, Mihailovic’s hometown team drafted him in 2017 at just 18 years of age. “I was definitely honored,” he said. ... “It’s special to play for a team that I supported throughout my whole life. I was a fan of [the] Chicago Fire, and for them to see me as a player that could contribute to the first team is something that I’ll always have.” But in the team’s final playoff game at the end of the 2017 season, Mihailovic’s burgeoning career took a sudden detour when he suffered an ACL injury.

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Hinsdale Magazine April 2019