It was the end of an era. Persija Jakarta’s talismanic striker Marko Simic announced on Tuesday that he has decided to terminate his contract with the Macan Kemayoran after four and a half years at the club, penning a heartfelt letter to his fans which he posted on his Instagram. The letter also revealed something shocking – that Persija had failed to pay one year’s worth of wages to Simic.
Having arrived at Persija from Malaysia Super League side Melaka United at the start of the 2018 season, Simic saw himself becoming a very integral part of the Macan Kemayoran side. The Croat won the 2018 President’s Cup and the 2018 Liga 1 Indonesia titles, before nabbing the league’s top scorer award in 2019 and winning the 2021 Menpora Cup as well as guiding Persija to the 2018/19 Piala Indonesia final.
Simic has also endeared himself to the Jakmania faithful by scoring 98 times in all competitions throughout his stay, including a memorable 4-goal haul as Persija demolished Malaysian giants Johor Darul Ta’zim 4-0 in the 2018 AFC Cup group stages at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
As both a fan favorite and a key member of the Persija squad, Simic was given a bumper contract that would expire in 2023. However, as the 2021/22 season went on, Simic found himself being gradually phased out of the Persija squad, being sidelined for a good part of the second half of the season. The Persija coaching staff told the media that Simic’s absence was down to an injury that he has, but the Croat was adamant that he was healthy, watching his teammates from the sidelines as Persija finished the season in 8th place – a disappointing result by the Macan Kemayoran‘s high standards.
And through his Instagram post announcing his departure from Persija, Simic revealed the reason behind his absence throughout the second half of last season – he was pushed out of the Persija squad due to him requesting the club management to fulfill their obligation towards him, as the Macan Kemayoran have failed to pay Simic his wages for the past year.
“With pain in my heart, I have unilaterally terminated my contract with Persija Jakarta because the club has heavily breached my contract and did not pay my salary for years,” Simic wrote in his Instagram post, “This was the hardest decision of my life.”
“After months of false promises and months of being on the bench just because I asked for my money, I needed to step up,” Simic continued, “I needed to do what’s best for me and what I deserve. People have tried to jeopardize my career, which I can’t and won’t accept.”
Despite leaving the club under a dark cloud, Simic reassured his fans that he still loves Persija, the city of Jakarta, and also all the Jakmania who constantly threw their support towards him and his teammates, promising them that he will always remember the good memories that he had with them.
The Persija management has yet to say a word regarding Simic’s departure.
Simic’s reputation as a deadly predator in front of goal would inevitably attract some suitors who would line up for his signature following his departure from Persija. The Croat has been linked with newly promoted Persis Solo, who are seeking to build a squad capable enough of going toe-to-toe with the Liga 1’s elite. Simic was also linked to another newcomer to the Liga 1, Raffi Ahmad’s RANS Cilegon. The Prestige Phoenix were also linked with another former Persija player, Marco Motta, with the Italian having left the Macan Kemayoran following the expiration of his contract.