Ervin Zukanovic is a man that prescribes to that old Bosnian notion that nothing worth going after should be rushed. Patience in all aspects of life. His football career certainly took a lot of patience to arrive at its current stop. Looking at the Roma defender, nothing seems out of the ordinary.
— AS Roma Indonesia (@OfficialRoma_ID) March 31, 2016
In football, and in other sports as well, perhaps nothing is more endearing than a feel-good Cinderella story. A team made up of average Joes that over-perform past their perceived limit and collectively win. We’ve seen it very recently in the 2015/2016 season with Leicester City. On a personal level, an athlete seemingly coming out of nowhere to claim great honors. Even supposed neutral commentators and journalists become caught up in the excitement and in the story. We all love a good story.
For neutral observers, signing for an Austrian second leaguer seems ordinary. It almost seems laughable. A second tier Austian side? For Zukanovic, it was civilization. When one considers the quality of football in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s domestic flight (especially during that time), as well as the infrastructure and pitches that house it, things come into focus. Consider the fact that a vast majority of Bosnian players do not even make a career for themselves in Bosnia, let alone transfer out of the country to a stronger club in Europe. Zukanovic was one of the few that found a way.
Climbing higher and higher in Belgium, he eventually landed at one of better sides, Gent, in 2013. His performance there, along with his national team debut for Bosnia and Herzegovina allowed him to make the next step up to a top league, the Serie A. Like all those previous times, Zukanovic used Chievo as a spring board by seizing the opportunity to its maximum effect. Inter Milan soon came calling. Instead, Zukanovic chose a lesser side, Sampdoria, saying it would be better for his career, long term. Always the long term in mind. Step by step.