Newcastle forward Alexsandar Mitrovic has revealed that the birth of his son Luka 17 months ago has made him more mature, amid his impending return to the Premier League.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the no-nonsense frontman admitted his temper was an issue when he joined Newcastle, but has since made attempts to keep the controversial aspect to his game under control.
The 22-year-old Serb also reflected on his chequered past during the interview, part of which being his tough footballing journey that took him from Smederevo in the former Yugoslavia to Partizan Belgrade, to Anderlecht in Belgium and then to Tyneside in a £14.5m move two years ago.
'‘When I first signed for Newcastle, I was still a boy. If I lost my temper on the pitch then I could not even count to one,’ says the striker who was sent off just 16 minutes into his Premier League home debut. ‘'Now, I get to six, sometimes seven.''
''My father tells me I would have been a criminal or a kick-boxer, But fatherhood has changed me - a lot. I try to do everything for my son so that, when he grows up, he can say that he was proud of his father.
'‘Sometimes before, you would get bored or lose focus, now there is always something to push me hard. I have become a man.
‘'The most trouble I was ever in was when we were dropping rocks at the train as it came towards the bridge,'’ he starts. ‘Everyone did it, but it was mine which smashed the window. The train had to stop.
'I ran and ran all the way home. My parents were mad. 'Why always you?' they shouted at me. I thought I was just unlucky. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been doing it. But I was always making stupid decisions and getting in trouble. If someone said, 'You can’t go there, don’t jump off that', I would do exactly the opposite, I was naughty.
‘'They took me to football and they realised I had a talent,’' he says. '‘I could be aggressive but I was also good with the ball. I watched Alan Shearer - he was my hero. At times I didn’t want to go to practice, I wanted to be with my friends. But as I got older I loved scoring goals. Football saved me.’'
Regarding his son, he also added: '‘He is like me when I was young - for 24 hours he wants to play, He is kicking a ball, he is kicking me, he is kicking everything. Sometimes it’s hard, but you always find energy for him.
‘'I want him to do the right things when he grows up, and not some of the things I did. I know there will be problems - he is my son - I know what is coming.
‘'Only now I understand my parents when they told me why they cared so much.’'
The striker certainly testifies to have changed off the pitch since his last Premier League outing, it is now up to him to prove to the world that his on-pitch behaviour is consistent with his newfound maturity.