Milutin Osmajic’s introduction to Preston life via local sommelier
Two professionals in Preston, brought together by football. Serbian sommelier Nikola Salipur; Preston North End striker Milutin Osmajic. A glass raised to goals. The two did not know each other a couple of months ago, but the local businessman is now as tight as a knot with the Montenegrin international. Both are embracing life in England, embarking on their respective adventures.
For Osmajic, that is on the football pitch, having signed from Spanish top flight side Cadiz on transfer deadline day. In doing so, he broke the Deepdale club’s transfer record - North End paying a reported £2.1million to secure his signature. One-and-a-half miles down the road, that news alerted a certain wine expert on Guildhall Street.
Niko was a former goalkeeper himself and has some friends within the game - back home. Preston’s signing of Osmajic prompted him to reach out once the deal was signed and sealed; their friendship has blossomed ever since. Osmajic has been a regular in Ryan Lowe’s team so far and is still finding his feet in the Championship. The same applies off the field, but that process has no doubt been made easier by a friendly face.
“I got in touch with Milutin after hearing from some friends that he was coming to sign for Preston North End,” Niko said. “I was surprised! Because, I think he is the first player from the Balkan area - where I am from - to sign for Preston. We know some of the same people, so I messaged him on social media to see if he needed any help. Comparing the culture in Europe - obviously he was playing for Cadiz - I know it is completely different, so I offered my help and he text me back.
“His first impression when he moved and we spoke on the first night was that he couldn’t believe the stadium and everything - which is much better than in Cadiz. And they play in the first league, so he was really surprised about the professionalism, how they treat the people and how serious they are about football. But I said to him: ‘Milutin, football over here is a big thing and people have high expectations’. So, I think it is on a higher level to in Europe. We went for dinner on his second day here, had a chat and then I helped him to settle in - sorting his banking and everything because he obviously doesn’t speak much English at the moment.
“But, he is really good. Even now, he understands everything and is picking little bits up. So yeah, I am pretty sure that in a few months he will be able to speak English and get by. I was pretty surprised, to be honest, because I moved here in 2019 when I was 28 - he is only 24, but I was surprised by how quickly he just settled in over here and got used to Preston. For me, it honestly feels like he has been here for the last few years. It is obviously a bit different, but I would say he has settled very well into the new environment. We did a bit of shopping, sorted out his car and he has got a house now. All I can say is that he is a really great guy.”
Lowe has branded Osmajic as a ‘top, top character’ and that charisma is not lost on Salipur, who is in touch with PNE’s number 28 pretty much every day. The NIKO owner believes Preston have got a great person and also talent on their hands.
“Oh yeah, he has personality and again, especially for 24-years-old,” said Niko. “He is still super young. If I compare myself, or anyone else, to when they were his age - it is like: ‘This guy is a born winner’. My first impression was seeing this super solid guy - tall guy - and thinking: ‘Milutin, you are a machine’. He is from Montenegro and a lot of Montenegrin people are really strong characters with open opinions and very honest, as well. He is super confident. And the thing about him is that he always wants to win.
“He gets really upset if the team loses and is always trying to give his best. Even in the past, if they drew he was never happy. I have not known him for a long time, but since he moved here we have spent a lot of time together. He has come in here, but I really think he can become a big thing in England and for Preston North End as well. To be honest, straight away he reminded me of Aleksandar Mitrovic. Even when I looked at some videos or highlights of his matches, in my opinion he is pretty similar - really strong, solid and good at scoring.
”I watched the game he scored, so I was lucky! I haven’t been able to watch other ones, as I’ve unfortunately been busy. But I will be going to watch against Millwall. He likes playing fast football and is here to score. That game I watched, against Birmingham, he only had one chance and even then it was a hard situation. He smashed it, a really strong shot, so brilliant. And I said to him afterwards: ‘You know what, I think you will score quite a few goals this season’. But, the good thing for him, is that he’s now found a house and his wife and his son are coming. I think that will also help him a lot.”
And the big question... if Preston win at Deepdale this season, can supporters expect to catch Osmajic celebrating three big points on Guildhall Street?!
“Yeah, hopefully they will see!” said Niko. “But the thing is, he is not the kind of guy who is hanging around too much. Especially if they draw or lose, I know he will be going straight home. He just needs to calm down because he is upset if they lose. But yeah, I strongly believe they will win against Millwall. And then, I will make him come here and celebrate!”
NIKO opened two years ago and is the home of craft beer and fine wine in Preston. The owner, Nikola, is a Sommelier and has been working in the industry for the last 13 years. He imports wine from Serbia and is opening the brand new Overtone Taproom on the top floor of NIKO later this month. Address: 10 Guildhall St, Preston, PR1 3NU. Instagram: @nikopreston