'I wanted to be a winner like her' – Jovic inspired by sister's battle with leukemia
The 21-year-old striker revealed that his family went through a difficult period as his sibling fought cancer while he was training with Red Star
Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic says he was inspired to chase his dream of becoming a successful footballer after seeing his sister overcome leukemia.
The 21-year-old grew up in a small town called Batar before he joined Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade, sending him on a path to Benfica and Eintracht Frankfurt before he made a €70 million (£62m/$79m) move to Madrid in the current transfer window.
But the Serbia international revealed that his journey has not all been easy, as his sister was diagnosed a life-threatening illness just over a decade ago.
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Seeing her emerge victorious from that battle only encouraged Jovic to give his all in football, as he says he wanted to be “a winner” as well.
“I don’t talk about this a lot, but when I was nine or 10 years old, my older sister got really sick. And this was the moment that marked our lives,” he told The Players’ Tribune.
“The doctors found out that she had leukemia, and she was in and out of the hospital for a long time. My mum had to stop managing the supermarket to look after her. For a whole year, our family was split up. I was living with my dad and my grandpa, going to and from training sessions at Red Star Belgrade, while my mum stayed with my sister.
“It was a very difficult time. What I most remember is the feeling when I went home from Belgrade to Batar after a game.
“One day, while he was giving me a ride home from training, my dad stopped and picked up my uncle and my cousin. I didn’t know what was happening at first, but then I realised we were having a big celebration.
“We went home and I remember my sister was wearing this paper hat, like it was her birthday. They told us that she was cured. And it was just an amazing feeling, knowing that she was going to be O.K., because we had been very scared for a long time.
“When my sister beat her illness, it gave me a fire to succeed. I wanted to be a winner like her.”