At 32, Edin Džeko remains one of the continent’s top goalscorers at Roma, and the ‘Bosnian Diamond’ will further cement his reputation at home if he becomes his nation’s first 100-cap player this week. Credit where it’s due, says UEFA.com.
What they say
“If a coach could make a striker, I’d make one like Džeko. He’s the perfect prototype: strong, tall, fast for his height, combative, aggressive and has good technique.”
Luciano Spalletti, former Roma coach
“He’s rubbish at football, but great at goalscoring.”
Noel Gallagher, Oasis songwriter and Manchester City fan
“Edin is the best striker in Europe. You will see. He is better than Ibrahimović.”
Miroslav Blažević, former Switzerland, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina coach
“Italian journalists gave me funny looks and even laughed when I said Džeko would be Serie A top scorer after a bad first season. Who’s laughing now?”
Mehmed Baždarević, former Bosnia and Herzegovina coach
“I met him for the first time in 2003 when I started to coach Željezničar; he was 17 and amazingly no one saw him as any kind of talent. But I saw his gift.”
Jiří Plíšek, former Željezničar coach
International: 99 appearances, 55 goals
UEFA club competition: 89 appearances, 38 goals
Domestic competition: 501 appearances, 225 goals
Claims to fame
• Started out as a midfielder, winning a junior cup with the Sarajevo club in 2002/03, with his coach Jusuf Šehović remembering: “He had the talent, even more he had application. I never doubted he would become a great player, that’s why I’m proud. He exceeded all expectations. He is our jewel.”
• One unnamed Željezničar director was quoted as saying that selling Džeko to Czech side Teplice for a reported €25,000 in 2005 was like “winning the lottery” for the Railwaymen, where not everybody considered him a great prospect.
Teplice and Ústí nad Labem (loan)
• Six goals in 15 games on loan at second-division Ústí nad Labem was regarded as a decent total for the young Džeko, who made the Teplice first team the next season; in 2006/07, he was the league’s second-highest scorer with 13 goals and earned a move to Wolfsburg.
• Fine-tuned by coach Felix Magath – “I am more physically fit than ever,” Džeko said – the Bosnian, with 26 goals, and Brazilian ace Grafite, with 28, racked up 54 goals as Wolfsburg won the 2008/09 Bundesliga. That made them the top goalscoring double-act ever in a single German top-flight season, beating Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeness’s 53 for Bayern in 1971/72.
• Džeko was duly voted Bundesliga player of the season, also ending the campaign as the German Cup’s six-goal leading marksman.
• Bundesliga top scorer in 2009/10 with 22 goals, Džeko also chimed in with ten assists – a measure of his generosity. “Goalscorers are selfish, Edin Džeko is not,” explained former Želježnicar and Yugoslavia midfielder Ivica Osim.
• Left for Manchester City in 2011 as Wolfsburg’s 66-goal all-time top scorer and their joint-leading marksman in UEFA competitions, level with Grafite on nine goals.
• Became the first City player to net four in a Premier League game in a 5-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur on 28 August 2011, his haul including a perfect hat-trick: left foot, right foot, head.
• Scored the second-fastest goal ever in a Manchester derby, 45 seconds into a match at Old Trafford on 24 March 2014; only City’s Dennis Tueart – after 39 seconds on 12 November 1975 – could better that.
• His overall tally in six Premier League derbies was four goals, all at Old Trafford, in just 174 minutes of football. Factor in a Community Shield goal and two more against United for Wolfsburg, and he struck seven times in nine games against the Red Devils – an average of a goal every 63 minutes.
• Departed for Roma in 2015 having lifted every major English honour: two Premier League titles (2011/12, 2013/14), the FA Cup (2010/11), the League Cup (2013/14) and the pre-season Community Shield (2012).
• Transformed after a sluggish first term, he scored ten in his first ten Serie A games of 2016/17 – the first player to do so for the club since Gabriel Batistuta in the Giallorossi’s title-winning 2000/01 campaign.
• Is now the top-scoring player from Yugoslavia or any former Yugoslav state in Europe’s top-five leagues (Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France) with 176, having surpassed Davor Šuker’s total of 129 back in 2016/17.
• Ended 2016/17 with 39 Roma goals in all competitions, breaking the club record of 32 which had been shared by Rodolfo Volk and Francesco Totti.
Bosnia and Herzegovina national team
• Overtook Zvjezdan Misimović and Elvir Bolić to become Bosnia’s top marksman on 7 September 2012 with a hat-trick against Liechtenstein. With 55 goals, he is now equal tenth in terms of all-time leading scorers for UEFA nations.
• His ten qualifying strikes helped the Dragons qualify for their first major international tournament, the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
• Became his country’s most capped player in September 2018, passing his cousin Emir Spahić’s record of 94. He will therefore be the first player to reach 100 caps for Bosnia.
What you might not know
• His upbringing was interrupted by the war in the Balkans. “I was six when the war started. It was terrible. My house was destroyed so we went to live with my grandparents. The whole family was there, maybe 15 people all staying in an apartment. It was very hard. We were stressed every day in case somebody we knew died. A lot of footballers began kick-arounds in the street but for me that was impossible. But when the war finished I was much stronger, mentally.”
• Seen as too tall and clumsy to succeed as a midfielder with Zelježničar, Džeko was nicknamed ‘Kloc’ – the local slang for a lamp-post or the pole that holds up a road sign.
• Magath signed him for Wolfsburg without seeing him in the flesh; scout analysis and video highlights had convinced him that Džeko was the right man.
• Džeko’s footballing intelligence extends to languages; he is fluent in Czech, German, English and Italian as well as his native tongue.
• His ties to his homeland remain strong; he has a Bosnian wife, model Amra Silajdžić, whom he married on 31 March 2014. The couple have a daughter, Una, and a son, Dani. Una received her dad’s match ball following the first of his two UEFA Europa League hat-tricks in 2016/17. He said: “When I scored my first hat-trick against Viktoria Plzeň, I took the match ball home and Una immediately took it and didn’t want to let go; she played with it all day. I then dedicated the second hat-trick [against Villarreal] to her.”
• While at Wolfsburg, he said AC Milan was his “dream club”, adding: “At some point in my career, I want to play there.” His boyhood hero was Andriy Shevchenko.
What he says
“Regardless of what I was and who I am, the most important thing is to remain human. I have to thank my parents for how I was raised, and I have brought that idea from home.”
“I always try to do my best. Sometimes that’s enough to get a good result, sometimes not, but I never give up and never will.”
“Goals don’t bother me, even though it is my job. I am as happy when team-mates score as when I score. Winning is what matters.”
“I played [in England] for five years, scored a lot of goals and won a lot of trophies. I played with the best players, against the best players. It’s an experience that helped me a lot, but I think I’m a much better player now than I was at Manchester City.”
“Expectations were big in Germany, bigger in England, but nothing even close to Rome. It’s a special city, with a special bond with a club. In Manchester I could go out for dinner or for a walk; people would stop me and politely ask for a photo from time to time. In Rome it is impossible to walk normally in the city.”
“I don’t even think about what I’ll do after I stop playing. I have three years of contract and I don’t think this is my last contract. I just want to enjoy it. I just want to score goals. And win. As long as possible.”
What he might achieve yet
• Score 30 goals in a single league season; he made it to 29 in 2016/17. Gonzalo Higuaín holds the Serie A record with 36, scored for Napoli in 2015/16.
• Džeko has Bosnia and Herzegovina’s goals and appearances records, but one ‘Bosnian’ player still has the edge on him; Zlatan Ibrahimović netted 62 in 116 games for Sweden. Can Džeko outstrip those totals?
• Take Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for most goals in European World Cup qualifiers. The 34-year-old has 30 for Portugal, with Džeko third in the continental rankings with 24 (two fewer than Shevchenko).
• Win a title in Italy. Džeko is unique in having scored 50-plus goals in three of the big-five European leagues, but while he landed league honours with Wolfsburg and City, he has yet to do so with Roma. He once said: “I won the championship in Germany and England – now its Italy’s turn.”