Before he joined the NPSL, Simon Mrsic was ready to walk away from the game forever.
“When things were tough, I was thinking about quitting since I didn’t have a club,” Mrsic said. “The NPSL gave me a platform to perform at a high level in my area and continue to play the sport I love.”
Following short stints with Columbus Crew SC and FK Sloga Doboj of Republika Srpska (a constitutional entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mrsic joined the East Bay FC Stompers, and used the opportunity to raise his game and stay sharp should another call come his way.
And that it did, as the midfielder signed with FK Backa Backa Palanka of the Serbian Superliga in March of 2017.
“It was a great feeling,” Mrsic said on signing with FK Backa. “It reminded me that all my hard work I’ve put in is starting to pay off.”
And from an early age, Simon Mrsic has had a role model to help instill a passion for the game of soccer: his father.
Ivan Mrsic, a forward, played in Europe for 11 years before moving stateside to join the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and also spent time with the Columbus Magic and the Cleveland Force. For Simon, the impact his dad had on his game is immense.
“My father influenced me a whole lot. Ever since I was a kid it was my dream to become a pro just like my old man.”
And it’s clear that his father has a direct impact on Simon’s game.
“Simon Mrsic is a well-rounded player and comes from a strong family background in the sport,” East Bay Stompers Founder/GM Billy Forte said. “The impact his dad had on him shows in his understanding of the game and his role as a professional both on and off the field.”
While Ivan spent time training the skills of his three sons, their exposure to the game was far more than time spent on the pitch.
“He always took us to MLS games and U.S. National Team games,” Simon said. “That was the only way we could watch soccer since it wasn’t televised back then.” Ivan took his sons to the games in order to ensure his sons could see the beautiful game at a professional level, and now to see one of his sons reach that level, Ivan has achieved his dream along with Simon.
“It was great feeling for me when he signed a contract for a top-flight club in Serbia,”
Ivan said. “It was always a dream of mine to see him succeed.”
When Simon arrived at the club, FK Backa were in the heat of a relegation battle, with Simon’s goal being simple: help the team stay up. And they did so in historic fashion.
“We ended up staying in the Superliga for the first time in the club’s history. It was a great feeling to be a part of the club and the city.”
When he signed with FK Backa, even though it was late in the season, Simon just wanted to play.
“Ever since I was a kid it has always been a dream of mine to play in a first division league in Europe. I can say I have done that.”
On May 21st, 2017, on the final match day of the Serbian Superliga season, Simon appeared as a substitute against his father’s old club.
But the midfielder from San Francisco isn’t done.
“At the end of my career I want to look back and say I played as many games as possible,” Simon said. “Because at the end of the day playing is what makes me happiest.”
And while Ivan Mrsic wants to see his son have success in Europe, he also hopes to see Simon play a little closer to home someday.
“I hope he has a few good seasons in Europe and comes back to play in the MLS so I can enjoy my old days watching him play in the U.S.,” Ivan said.
Regardless of where Simon’s career takes him in the future, two lifetime dreams have already been fulfilled.