Matej Poplatnik is determined to make up for lost time.
“I feel angry because I should have scored that good chance,” said the Raith Rovers loan star following Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 triumph over Cowdenbeath.
He is referring to a golden opportunity when he was sent scampering clear on goal and, despite rounding Blue Brazil keeper Cammy Gill, was denied by a tight angle and retreating defenders.
“The most important thing is that we won the match but my job as a striker is to score goals and I want do that.”
Ultimately, it was a moot miss. A first-half strike by Lewis Vaughan was enough to secure all three points in the Premier Sports Cup Group D opener, with Rovers also striking the bar through Christophe Berra.
Nevertheless, Poplatnik is visibly hungry to kick-start his career in Scottish football following an underwhelming maiden campaign with Livingston last term.
Boasting a prolific record in his homeland, leading to a fine Indian summer with Kerala Blasters — succeeding former Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov in attack — there is no reason to think he cannot do that.
“I would say that playing in India was one of the best times of my life,” Poplatnik told Courier Sport. “It was a great experience and the only problem is that the season is so short.
“It gave me the opportunity to play against amazing players like Tim Cahill in a growing league, where Roberto Carlos, Diego Forlan and Del Piero have played. It was a high level.
“The striker who was at the club before me was Dimitar Berbatov – so no pressure! It was a great place to learn and grow as a player.
“Before that, I scored a lot of goals in Slovenia and I believe 100 per cent that I can rediscover that here with Raith Rovers. I know what I am capable of, and if I stay calm, be humble and work hard then I think there are good times ahead.
“I will be 29 years of age next week — I am not a kid anymore — and I need to get back to playing regularly and scoring like crazy.”
While highlights were scarce for Poplatnik last term, making just 25 appearances — seven from the start — he did enjoy a fine outing against the Rovers.
He scored the winning goal against John McGlynn’s men in a tight Scottish Cup tie in April, finding the net in extra-time to secure a 2-1 triumph. It was one of three goals Poplatnik registered for the Lions, all in cup competitions.
“I still have a strong memory of how Raith Rovers tried to play that game,” continued the former Slovenia under-21 internationalist. “So, when the option came up, I knew this was the right place for me.
“The manager has spoken to me about that match last season and said he was impressed with my performance and the decisive goal, so it is nice to hear.
“Raith Rovers is right for me because of the style of football they play. The gaffer and coaching staff are great – I like the way they teach us – and all of the lads are great. They have supported me from the first day.”
‘We must have big dreams’
With three points in the bag from Central Park, Rovers’ attention now turns to Tuesday’s visit of Brechin City as the Kirkcaldy club seek to make a flying stage to their group campaign.
In the fullness of time, however, the Championship will emerge as the clear priority at Stark’s Park — and Poplatnik has no desire to mitigate expectations or lower the bar as Raith aim to again mount a promotion challenge.
“If you are a footballer and don’t embrace the big challenges, then it is better to stop playing and give someone else the shirt; go and do another job,” he added.
“We must have big expectations and big dreams for what we can achieve. Together, we can reach them.”