The striker routine was already ready for substitution when Marko Arnautovic scored 1-0 for Austria. For Janko, it was clear at that moment that he would have to take a seat on the bench again.

Vienna – Marc Janko’s comeback in the Austrian national team fell into the water at the last second on Friday. The 35-year-old was ready for a substitution at Happel Stadium in the 71st minute, but then Marko Arnautivic scored 1-0 against Northern Ireland, and suddenly everything was different again – the striker experienced the finish from the substitutes’ bench.

The fact that he still had to wait for his 67th international and 29th goal, however, was easy for Janko in view of the victory. “When Marko scored the goal, it was completely obvious to me that I would sit down again, because it wouldn’t have made sense to hit me,” said the Lugano professional on Saturday.

Janko: “I would have reacted the same way”

Team boss Franco Foda didn’t need any explanation. “I saw it the same way he did at that moment. If I had been a coach, I would have acted the same way. So I was at least allowed to warm up again in the Happel Oval and did some good sprints,” Janko smiled. ReelRush is one of the most vibrant games in a long time.

For the experienced player, the narrowly missed swap was a completely new experience. “Something like this has never happened to me before. There are always things I haven’t experienced yet, that was a new feeling yesterday”. In the test against Denmark on Tuesday, however, the substitution could work out – after all, the number of squad players was reduced by three on Saturday, and six substitutions are allowed on Tuesday. “The chances have not decreased. Maybe I’ll get my minutes, maybe I won’t.”

Even if the nominated Janko were also a spectator in Herning, the positive feeling would prevail. “I don’t know where to go with all the esteem I’ve been held in, that’s why the journey was worth it. I didn’t expect the almost overwhelming reaction to my human values at all, that compensates for every useless warm-up work and felt substitution. If I don’t play against Denmark, I’ll still travel back to Lugano with a really wide grin and good feeling.”

ÖFB reelrush

Shock moment when looking at my date of birth

It remains to be seen how long Janko will be available as an emergency nail for the ÖFB-Tem, because a career end is not in sight for the time being. “I want to play football as long as I enjoy it and feel good physically,” said the goalie, whose contract with Lugano expires next summer.

Janko obviously feels comfortable in his role as a team oldie, even though a look at the birthdates of some ÖFB players can cause some shock moments. “I have noticed with horror that I am 15 years older than Maximilian Wöber and 14 years older than Xaver Schlager. You’d start to wonder where all these years have gone.”