Milinkovic's list of previous clubs reads like a complicated labyrinth of loans across various countries, only twice appearing in double-digit league games at his various stops. Which division was Virtus Lanciano playing in 2016? He's learned a handful of languages along the way while dabbling in new cultures, if only for a sojourn before his next loan move whisked him away.
He reached a high point last summer, signing with Hull City in England's second tier. Thought to be one of the division's stronger clubs, one great season could bring promotion to the Premier League. It was too alluring to pass up.
But then it went all wrong for Milinkovic, playing a total of 92 minutes over the entire season. He left England with an awful aftertaste, determined to show the world his talent.
“I just want to prove to everyone what my level is," Milinkovic told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday.
After his nightmare in England came to a close, it was obvious Milinkovic would be moving on. Despite playing so few minutes, the Vancouver Whitecaps registered interest in the winger. That show of faith when he was down was more than enough to convince him where he wanted to be.
“I was happy and surprised," Milinkovic admitted. "Hull was difficult for me, I didn’t play many games. It was a difficult situation between me and my coach. Then when Vancouver called I was so happy and wanted to come the first day.”
Milinkovic started both of the Whitecaps matches before the league was suspended in mid-March, picking up an assist on his debut. His joy for football was returning and he was finally set for regular minutes once more, hitting the form he showed with Hearts in Scotland.
With Hearts in 2017-18, Milinkovic was one of the league's top midfielders. That season convinced Hull to make a move for him and it started off fine, he was playing regularly in preseason. It was expected Kamil Grosicki, a Poland international winger, would be moving on from Hull that summer, but that move never materialized despite reports. Milinkovic's prime pathway to minutes was blocked.
“I don’t play for the money, I play because football is my life," Milinkovic said. "When I wasn’t playing at Hull, it was very difficult. I was very frustrated.”
Milinkovic turned 26 on Wednesday, little more than a week after he welcomed his first child into the world, a baby boy named Gabriel. His life is changing and he's happy. With a sharpened sense of desire, Milinkovic can't wait to get back on the field with the Whitecaps.
“I want to prove to everyone," he said. "I like to play well, I like to score and assist. I have very big ambitions for this year. I want to be a top-five assist man in the league. I’ll give 200% for my team.”