Luka Jovic has told The Players' Tribune he will be eternally grateful for the opportunities he was given in his two years at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Plucked from the fringes of the Benfica first team, initially on loan, Jovic registered eight goals in 22 matches in his first season in the Bundesliga. He also struck a brilliant winner against Schalke in the DFB Cup semi-finals before Frankfurt ended a 30-year wait for silverware by beating Bayern Munich in the final.
The 21-year-old continued his rise in 2018/19, striking up a prolific understanding with Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic. He hit 27 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions as the Eagles reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals and secured a top-seven finish in the Bundesliga.
Despite opting to join Real Madrid earlier this summer, Jovic admits Frankfurt will always hold a special place in his heart.
Watch: The story of Luka Jovic
"Everything changed when I was able to move to Eintracht Frankfurt," Jovic told The Players' Tribune.
"I really started to enjoy my football again when I moved there.
"When we won the German Cup in 2018, the whole atmosphere in the stadium and the city was electric. It felt a lot like Red Star, and I made a lot of friends in Frankfurt that I will keep forever.
"I will always love and appreciate Eintracht, because this is not a club that is about money or expensive players. Instead it is about chemistry and an incredible feeling of togetherness with the supporters."
The bond between Frankfurt and its fervent fans was none more so apparent than during the Eagles' run to the 2018/19 Europa League semis.
Eintracht's '12th man' fuelled wins over the likes of Lazio, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan and Benfica, before an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to English Premier League outfit Chelsea ended the club's dreams of reaching a first European final since 1960.
Jovic, the competition's second highest scorer on 10 goals, was heartbroken.
"My only regret is the Europa League semi-final against Chelsea. This is probably one of the only times in my career I cried tears of sadness, and it wasn't even right after we lost the penalties," he recalled.
"It was when we were walking off the pitch and I saw the Eintracht supporters in the front row singing our anthem with tears in their eyes, even though we had lost.
"It was a different experience for me, playing for fans who support you even when you lose. That is rare in the world of football, and I am sad to be leaving Frankfurt, because the club changed my career."
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