Columbus Crew defender Milos Degenek will represent his country when he takes the field for Australia during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in just over two weeks' time. The team announced the defender earned a spot with the national team on Tuesday morning.
Degenek becomes the eighth player in Crew history to be named to a World Cup roster and the second current player alongside Jonathan Mensah with experience on soccer’s grandest stage. He is also the first player since the 2014 season to feature on a World Cup roster.
Defender Giancarlo Gonzalez and fullback Waylon Francis were the last Black & Gold players to appear in a World Cup when the duo represented Costa Rica eight years ago in Brazil. Degenek is also the first Columbus player to represent a soccer federation outside of CONCACAF. The previous Crew World Cup representatives came from the United States, Jamaica and Costa Rica.
The defender debuted for the Black & Gold in 2022 making 28 appearances (24 starts) during his first season in Central Ohio.
Originally born in Croatia, Degenek and his family emigrated to Australia in 2000. He made his international debut for the Socceroos when he came on in the 75th minute during a friendly against England on May 27, 2016. His substitution was impactful, as he set up Australia’s only goal of the contest, forcing England defender Eric Dier into an awkward position in which he headed the ball into the back of his own net. Australia couldn’t capture the victory and fell by a 2-1 scoreline in Degenek’s debut.
The defender’s first international goal came two years later during a friendly against Oman in the United Arab Emirates. Degenek made a run to the near post and flicked the ball past the goalkeeper to score his first and only international goal for the senior team.
In his career so far, the Columbus defender has amassed 38 caps for Australia and competed in tournaments such as the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup. He has also enjoyed a decorated youth career. He featured for Austria (Under-23, Under-17) and Serbia (Under-19) at the youth level.
Degenek and the Socceroos feature in Group D in the opening stages of this year’s World Cup. This group also features perennial powerhouse France, Denmark and Tunisia. France is the favorite to win the group with Denmark and Australia vowing for that second position as both countries aim to get into the knockout round.
The Socceroos open their 2022 World Cup with a date against France on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. ET. They return to action four days later with a date against Tunisia on Saturday, Nov. 26 and conclude group play against Denmark on Wednesday, Nov. 30.