Young All Whites midfielder Marko Stamenic has been dubbed "Lord of the Midfield" by his new club for next season; former Champions League winners and defending Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade.
Stamenic's recruitment by Red Star was announced by the club this morning on social media alongside a playful photoshopped image featuring the 20-year-old reaching out for a golden ring in a nod to Lord of the Rings.
"Lord of the Midfield," the club said.
Stamenic will join the club after his current deal with FC Copenhagen expires at the end of the season; he rejected a new deal with the Danish Superliga club to sign a four-year deal with Red Star Belgrade.
It's the latest chapter in Stamenic's career in Europe with the Kiwi previously joining FC Copenhagen in 2020 after an impressive campaign with New Zealand at the 2019 under-17 World Cup.
That led to a Champions League debut last year playing against European powerhouses Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City as he earned regular starts for the club.
Despite the milestones, it wasn't enough to convince Stamenic to stay.
“We think Marko has developed well here, but we have to deal with the fact that he does not want to extend his contract,” Copenhagen sporting director Peter Christiansen said in January.
Stamenic's new deal has special family connections with his father being Serbian.
Red Star are currently eight points clear at the top of the Serbian SuperLiga ahead of Partisan and could guarantee a spot in next season’s Champions League should they claim a record 34th league title this year.
It would give them a chance to win a second Champions League title, having previously won the 1991 European Cup.