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A story untold: Edin Dzeko - War victim to the Bosnian Diamond

The story of Edin Dzeko from a child growing up in a war-torn country to one of the World's best strikers

ANALYST
Feature 19 Jan 2015, 21:59 IST
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Edin Džeko has come a long way to become a successful professional footballer

Edin Džeko’s story is a masterpiece on courage and willpower. It is a tale of a boy who surged from bullet holes to make it onto the top of the football world. If it hadn’t been his mother Belma, who stopped her boy from going to play football in the field which got bombed a few minutes later during the Balkan war days, we would have never witnessed Edin Džeko take up the field be it for a Bosnian shirt or a City sky blue.

Today Edin Džeko may not be the best player in the world, but he does belong in the top level and being 28 years young, we are yet to witness a lot more chapters of his story. What still makes his football career prodigious is the manner how he struggled for life as a child and to make it into the most famous names in the football fraternity.

Dzeko grew up in a war-torn country

It goes back to 1992, the Bosnian War of Independence which stretched from three years until 1995. It was one of the most horrific junctures in the Balkan history as Bosnian Serbs and Croats fought over ethnicity. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnian and Herzegovina and hometown to Edin Džeko was one of the worst damaged places from the war. Džeko, at times, has publicly spoken about his childhood and there’s an account of war times from one of his interviews -:  

“Our lives were dominated by the conflict as everyone knew someone in the military and this meant we were all touched by the death of friends and family.

“It was a frightening experience to be in Sarajevo when the city was under siege every day, but this was the life I was given and to be honest, I don't enjoy talking about it so much now.

“It was a hard time for everyone in the country. There wasn’t much to eat, not really enough for three meals a day. I was very afraid every day. We were always having to hide when shots rang out or bombs fell. You could get shot at any time. I cried a lot in those days. Thank God the war was in the past.”

ED boy!

“I FEAR NOTHING NOW” those words define the valor and defiance of the Bosnian Diamond. Considered to be the most famous national hero, Džeko gave those rare moments in the Bosnian history that have now become a part of their folklore. As the national football team prepared for the FIFA World Cup, 2014, the flood catastrophe had taken over the majority of Bosnia. 

They say that he (Džeko) lifts the hearts of newly born Bosnian and Herzegovina who were in the midst of natural calamity even before they completely came out from the war aftermath. When you're asked about Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first name that flashes in your mind is – Edin Džeko. Maybe you won’t know their President, capital, or anything, but yes, we do know they have a football icon in the name of Edin Džeko.

Dzeko started his career as a midfielder

A journey of thousand miles does start from a single step. Džeko began his career at Zeljeznicar from 2003 under the then coach Jiri Pilsek. It might be surprising that initially he started as a creative midfield player, who dribbled the ball with his head up and a straight vertebrae. Being extremely tall to play for a creative playmaking position, he was regarded to be an average academy player and seemed to be out of the line.

Peculiarly he wasn’t very comfortable heading the ball. His time in Zeljeznicar was complicated as he struggled and no one could have ever dreamt the luminous future ahead. Jiri Pilsek on his move to FK Teplice, advised the club to buy him. Zeljeznicar accepted a bid of €25,000 for Džeko. At the time, one of the Bosnian club’s directors stated, “We thought we won the lottery”.

It was at FK Teplice, in Czech Republic, Džeko developed his aerial quality, to today become one of the few strongest footballers in air. After the Czech stint, there was only one road ahead for the Bosnian that had goals and more goals written on it. With his breakthrough performances in Czech Republic, he attracted great interests from many clubs, including VFL Wolfsburg, who finally won the race to his signature for €4 million in 2008.

Džeko went on to be an immediate success in Bundesliga, imprinting his presence all over the globe. His man of the match performances and prolific goal scoring led VFL Wolfsburg to their first league title in 2009. That season Džeko went on to score a mammoth 36 goals in all competitions, as a result of which he was named the 9th best footballer at Ballon d’Or that season.

Soon, events occurred at the speed of light as Džeko became the all-time top goalscorer in the club’s history with 59 goals in 96 appearances. He overtook club legend, Diego Klimowicz’s record of 57 goals in 149 games. Džeko became half of the most successful strike-force in Bundesliga history alongside with his teammate and the Brazilian frontman, Grafite, beating the record of 1972-73 set by the duo of Gerd Mueller and Uli Hoeness.

Playing at the top level with Manchester City

Dzeko Aguero
Partners in crime – Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero

A talent which was now proven as a real mettle at the top level automatically generated interest from the best clubs in the world. It was Manchester City who then secured the services of Bosnian for a club record fee for Wolfsburg of 32 million euros. This was the world stage Džeko hoped for to impact his natural and elegant style of football. Džeko made his debut with a 30-minute cameo appearance against Wolves in the Premier League. Half an hour of which he showed terrific football skills.

In his first season, he did not disappoint; his performances played pivotal parts in City’s successful campaign to secure their first trophy in years. Džeko has confessed that it was difficult to adopt the city life of Manchester thousands of miles away from him hometown, Sarajevo. He scored a late equalizer against Notts County in the FA Cup campaign of 2010-11, had he not scored that goal, City would have gone another year without a trophy, like their previous 44 years. Džeko also scored two goals against ARIS FC in Europa League, late in the season.

On the final day of the 2011-2012 seasons, Džeko scored a 92nd minute equalizer before Sergio Aguero scored in the 95th minute to beat Queens Park Rangers 3- 2. With his energetic and fearless performance he helped secure the first Premier League title for City in 44 years. But the best was yet to come at City, he did cross the 20-goal mark in 2013-14 season. The Bosnian netted 26 goals that season and scored some heavy goals in crucial games to see City win another league title in only his 3 season at Etihad.

His goal tally has been impressive; scored 69 goals in all competitions for the sky blues so far. With a recent contract extension for 5 years at Etihad, there is a good chance that Džeko and Sergio Aguero would become top two goal scorers of all time for Manchester City.

A giant leaping header against Everton FC

Edin is a sensible boy, but I have some concerns: Dzeko’s mother

Edin comes from a modest background. He is seen sharing pictures with his family at Instagram. They were present the day city were crowned the Champions of England for 2013-14 season at the Etihad Stadium. Edin’s recalls that his father, Midhat Džeko encouraged him at his road to the top of football. As of 2012 it was reported that Edin Džeko is the second highest paid forward in the Premier League behind Wayne Rooney with a wage bill exceeding £9 million.

Džeko's mother echoes those sentiments, though she is concerned about the pitfalls and disquiet of being a multimillionaire footballer.

“My worry is all the money and the success will allow some bad people to attach themselves to my son,” Belma said. “Some girls like to be with famous footballers for the wrong reasons and I do not want to see Edin damaged by them. He is a sensible boy, but obviously I have some concerns.”

Edin Džeko is first cousins with Emir Spahic who captained the national side before Džeko took over the reins. Džeko is the UNICEF brand ambassador and is regularly spotted at the UNICEF events in Europe. At Manchester, Aleksander Kolarov, Stefan Jovetic and Matija Nastasic are good friends with Edin, they are often seen together in Manchester, all four being Balkans.

Edin Džeko is a practicing Muslim and is often seen reciting Islamic prayers before entering the pitch. Muhummed Besic and Džeko were also pictured outside a mosque in Brazil before the beginning of the FIFA World Cup campaign.

Džeko at an UNICEF event

Dzeko is loved by the football fraternity

Džeko has found many admirers around the football world.

Asmir Begovic told the Stoke City official website, “He is amongst top three number 9s in the world alongwith Robert Lewandowski and Falcao.”

Former manager, Roberto Mancini said, “He is a wonderful modern football forward, left in Serie A he would end up scoring 25 goals, his only problem is that he wants to play every game”. Although Džeko scored 26 goals last season surpassing the 25 mark in the most challenging league in the world.

“Edin and Sergio are my favourite players at Manchester City,” Alvaro Negredo told to City TV.

Ashley Williams called him the toughest player to deal with on the pitch. “For me he is like Lionel Mesi or Cristiano Ronaldo,” was a comment by PSG legend and current Bosnian coach Safet Susic.

“With Edin Džeko and me in the same team, we would have beaten David Silva’s Spain to be the best team in the world,” said Aleksandar Kolarov when he was asked to rank the Yugoslavian national team if it existed.

“He is the most important player in my team”, current coach Manuel Pellegrini said.

“We know the threat he possesses and there’s a need of a master plan to stop him,” Pablo Zabaleta said about his clubmate, when Bosnia and Argentina went head to head at FIFA World Cup.

“He is the most dangerous player at City, we know if given a little space to him is going to cost us dearly”. Miralem Pjanic commented about his international teammate before City hosted Roma in the Champions League.

Edin Džeko has been dating the Bosnian supermodel and actress Amra Siladzic for over last two years now. Known to be one amongst the hottest football WAGs, Edin Džeko has found some media space also on Page 3. They are often seen sharing pictures together at Instagram.

Edin Džeko today rightly regarded to be one amongst the top center forwards. Often at the after-match presentation Džeko candidly says, “Scoring goals is my job, it’s my business”. He is a wonderful footballer; walking in his charismatic style up front defines the mettle and chivalry of Džeko. With his track records with injury, Edin Džeko still has a lot in his bag to give to football fans around. We are still to hear a lot more Edin Džeko chanting at stadiums, the anecdote will go on!

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