Edin Dzeko on the Champions League comeback with Barcelona, the difference between Serie A and the Premier League and why “only in Rome have I felt like I’m at home.”
The Bosnia international wrote a piece for The Players Tribune on his life and career, from post-war to winning a Premier League title at the last second with Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City.
“It’s funny, I’ve played football in many countries now, but it’s only in Rome that I have felt like I am at home. Bosnia and Sarajevo will always be No. 1 in my heart, but Rome is a good second.
“Home for me is a place I feel good, where I’m just thinking about football, where there are no other problems, and where my family is happy. I wanted to go to Serie A so I could learn the language, and now I’ve built something really nice here.
“People always ask me the difference between playing in England and Italy. England is speed, speed, speed. Here it is tactics, tactics, tactics. It’s amazing how much I learned in three years in Serie A. They think about every small detail here.
“But the most amazing thing to me is that I can call a legend like Francesco Totti my friend. And I tell him all the time that I wish I came here a little bit earlier in my career, because he would have helped me score so many more goals!
“Playing a few seasons with him improved my game massively. He saw everything on the pitch, and played balls that moved me into space I hadn’t even considered. I’m so happy I came to Italy, and I definitely learned a lot about football here.
“We had our own QPR moment in the Champions League last season. That quarter-final against Barcelona was one of those matches where you can show kids the tape afterward and say, “Look, watch this game, and you’ll see that you can never give up.”
“The first leg we lost 4–1. To lose 4–1 against Barcelona, there you are again, looking at a football pitch, thinking you are dead.
“But then, with the second leg at home, I get a little bit lucky and score the first goal early — maybe in the fifth or sixth minute. The crowd starts giving us energy. Then we get the penalty in the second half. De Rossi steps up and he goes bottom right. The goalkeeper even gets a hand to it, but De Rossi hits it with such force that it goes in anyway. You get that feeling in your blood, like, Maybe? Can we?
“We were running, playing like animals, giving everything we had. It’s just like 2012, we’re screaming, “Come on! Come on! Come on!”
“Then, at the end, in the 82nd minute, Manolas scores the third goal. Incredible.
“I watched the match back the next morning, and it looked like we could have scored five or six goals, easy. It feels strange to say that when you’re playing against Barcelona, but it wasn’t a miracle. They really didn’t have that many chances. It was master football for us. We were tactically perfect.
“We were dead, and then we came back to life. It can happen in Manchester, and in Rome. It can happen anywhere. That’s football.
“I’m 32 years old now, and I’m not sure what happens next. I’d definitely like to take Bosnia to another international tournament. I was so proud to give a bit of happiness back to my country in 2014. Imagine, the first time Bosnia got to a World Cup, we made our debut at the Maracanã against Argentina. It was like the dream came true.
“After the war, we were a generation of kids with simple dreams. We just wanted to play football in peace. Now, I have my football, and I’ve found my peace. That’s my life.
“I want to play and watch all the games I can, seriously. Sometimes my wife will catch me in our living room watching Serie A or the Premier League or something on the television, and she’ll ask, “Is it enough football?”
“I just smile. She should know the answer by now. No, of course, it is never enough.”
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