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Belgrade to Charlotte: The Journey of Filip Mirkovic to join Crown Legacy FC

By Tyler Trent

Photo credit Crown Legacy FC

Soccer is hardly an option when you are born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia. In the first division, Belgrade has five professional teams; however, one matchup earns all the spotlight. The Eternal Derby, fought out between Red Star Belgrade and Partizan, is renowned around the world for its intensity and intrigue.

Filip Mirkovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2001. That year, the Eternal Derby was a highly contested affair with the two teams splitting their regular season meetings and Partizan winning the Serbian Cup over its rival.

However, Mirkovic would grow up to be a Red Star Belgrade supporter. He first began playing the sport around four years old in kids' leagues. Later, his mom placed him in an academy system, where he played for a couple of years.

However, Mirkovic's time in Serbia ended when his family decided to move to New York City. After arriving in New York, Mirkovic joined a local team called Asphalt Green, where he played for around two years developing his skills while playing up an age group. Mirkovic then made a pitstop with Manhattan Soccer Club before moving to play with New York Red Bulls for a year and a half.

The crowning achievement for the youth career of Mirkovic came with his move to the New York City FC Academy, where his team was back-to-back National Champions. After his success in the NYCFC Academy, Mirkovic decided to attend college at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned many more accolades, including the 2020 All-ACC Freshman Team, 2022 All-ACC First Team, and 2023 Mac Hermann Trophy Watch List honors.

A Balkan connection between Mirkovic and a member of the coaching staff in part led the Serbian-born midfielder to make Pitt his next move. In his four seasons with Pitt, Mirkovic played 75 matches, with 71 of those as a starter. The central midfielder scored nine goals and tallied 28 assists in his four seasons with Pitt.

Photo credit Pitt Athletics

Becoming a pro

Orlando City selected Mirkovic in the second round of the 2024 MLS SuperDraft, but plans didn't go as expected. "It was a weird spot for me. They didn't really have plans for me, and I was really confused. If I was playing bad in preseason, take me out, but when I'm playing actually good, then this happens. It was just the weirdest spot to be in," said Mirkovic on his short stint with Orlando City.

However, Charlotte quickly reached out about signing the midfielder. Mirkovic shared that Charlotte has been in contact with him for multiple years now, saying, "Charlotte was a club that I've been wanting to come to for a long time. They reached out to me when I was a junior in college at Pitt. They wanted to buy my rights from NYCFC, but NYCFC wanted more money. It was just a business thing. We got unlucky there, but somehow it was meant to be. Now I'm here, so I'm very happy about that."

Now at Crown Legacy, Mirkovic is already making an impact. He currently ranks third in minutes played for Crown Legacy this season, missing time only due to a minor injury. The midfielder holds an 85.4% pass accuracy, has played 13 key passes good for second most on the team, and has one assist. Though Crown Legacy has struggled early compared to last season, Mirkovic isn't worried.

Serbian heritage and upbringing

With a busy schedule due to soccer, Mirkovic doesn't get the chance to travel back to Serbia as much as his family did when he was young. "It's been like four or five years now that I haven't gotten the chance. I don't really have too much time, even during the summer. I'm training, staying fit, getting ready for the season. I don't really wanna take any days off. I prefer to stay here, but of course, I gotta visit soon, man. Now that we're talking about, it's been a minute," shared Mirkovic with a smile.

Mirkovic described himself as a confident midfielder who likes to be on the ball, control the tempo, take risks, play dangerous balls, and make an impact. That drive was instilled in Mirkovic early by his father. In an excerpt from Pitt News, Mirkovic explains the difficulties and the benefits of that Balkan father figure.

“I love it,” Mirkovic said about his Serbian background. “It’s something different. It’s unique — Serbian dads, they’re known for being very hard on their kids. So I did have a hard time with him, with ups and downs a lot of [the] time, but in the end, he made me stronger and it’s paying off.”

Now that he's a professional, Mirkovic looked back at how his relationship with his father changed over his journey. "He used to be very hard on me and really gave me a hard time when I wasn't performing. We used to get into tons of arguments and stuff at home. Everything that happened, it's always something to learn from. It kind of makes you realize that nothing comes easy in this world and of course, your parents always want the best for their kid. So I understand where his frustration was coming from and everything. I just kind of pushed myself to be very independent and really just focus on myself to get to that level where I wanted to make everyone proud so they can know that I'm here now. I'm doing well by myself and you know it's somewhere where I pushed myself, with or without your help."

Adjusting to Crown Legacy

Crown Legacy recently won its first match of the year against New York City FC II last week. Mirkovic was recovering from a minor injury and only appeared as a substitute, and although he was disappointed he wasn't able to get more minutes, he was ecstatic with the win, saying, "Listen, it's for the team. It was a huge win - the first one of the season; really a good place to get it away. The game really showed that you know, even if we play home or away, whoever it is that comes our way, we don't have a problem with it as long as we stick together and stick to the plan. It was especially a sweet victory for me, knowing that I used to play for them, and it was just nice to be back home as well. My family came out - playing in front of them, getting that win in front of them was pretty special."

While his professional career is just starting, Mirkovic considers signing that contract one of the biggest achievements in his sporting journey so far. "The plan was for me to continue my professional career after college, and I'm very proud of that. I know I have a lot more to give, and you know there's a lot more for me to put on the table," shared Mirkovic.

The other achievement that Mirkovic holds in high regard is becoming Pitt's all-time assist leader - a record previously held for over 25 years. The midfielder quickly followed up to say while he's proud of the accomplishment, it's the past, saying, "But listen, that's history. That's something I'm proud of, but I just started looking forward to the future and what I can do with this team now."

Coming into the team from Pitt, Mirkovic was familiar with some members of the team from Atlantic Coast Conference play—guys like Jahlane Forbes and Hamady Diop, whom he often played against. The Serbian-born player also mentioned Nikola Petković and Marko Filipovic as other Serbian kids who play for Charlotte, which made it easier for him to fit in and adjust.

Mirkovic (left) and Filipovic (right) pose with Serbia flag. Photo credit Crown Legacy FC

While he had never been to Charlotte before signing, Mirkovic says that helped him settle in a little more quickly. "I've heard a lot of good things. There are a lot of young people coming in and it seemed like a good place to be at the moment. Especially with Charlotte's team, a new club that's in town, you know. It's promising, you know, and that kind of caught my eye when I heard about it."

Hobbies off the pitch

In addition to following Red Star Belgrade, Mirkovic also follows Real Madrid, tennis, and basketball. He considers the Serbian legend Novak Djokovic as his favorite player. "A little bias, you know? He's the goat, I love him," Mirkovic commented with a laugh.

Outside of his career playing sports, Mirkovic often spends his free time playing pickleball, tennis, and basketball when he's not resting. He also shared that he is a big movie guy. He mentioned Christopher Nolan's 2014 Sci-Fi epic Interstellar as an all-time favorite and that he was a fan of The Equalizer trilogy starring Denzel Washington.

Mirkovic and Crown Legacy return to play tonight at the Sportsplex at Matthews in an Eastern Conference matchup against New England Revolution II at 7:30 pm. Crown Legacy will continue at home against Chattanooga FC on May 15th at 7:30 pm.


To make a greater impact for the Relatives and progress our community initiatives, Crown Legacy FC will be hosting a clothes drive at its home matches throughout the Month of May!

Fans who donate two or more articles of clothing will receive a discounted ticket to a CLFC home match in May. One discounted ticket per fan who donates. Crown Legacy FC Season Ticket Members who donate will receive raffle tickets for giveaways during the Crown Legacy FC's annual STM night.

Donation bins will be placed in front of the box office at Mecklenburg County Sportsplex and at the entrance of AHPP. Discounted tickets will be available at the box office after donating.

For young people in crisis, The Relatives steps in where no one else can. With a 50-year history, The Relatives is unmatched in finding solutions for the countless challenges that confront the youth they serve. Supporting The Relatives means you are giving relief in place of despair, acceptance in place of rejection and empowerment in place of hopelessness. For more information on The Relatives, visit