How many of us are ever going to forget that day in October? Bosnia was even with Greece on points (22), but had a considerably larger positive goal differential. Greece needed a draw or a loss by Bosnia, who was playing Lithuania, away, for the last match of Group G, European qualifiers for the World Cup in Brazil. The loss never came. Vedad Ibisevic broke the curse with a simple tap in, and the rest is history.
Vedator was also the first player in Bosnia’s history to score a World Cup goal, against Argentina. Fitting, considering he was also the one that sent us there. Ibisevic was never as celebrated of a player that he should have been. Almost insesitently playing second fiddle to Edin Dzeko, Ibisevic’s contribution to the team always seemed an afterthought rather than a main staple, unjustly so.
Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Vedad Ibisevic was the living embodiment of the Bosnian diaspora community. His family escaped war, but carved a decent life out for themselves in the United States. Ibisevic utilized the vehicle of football (or soccer), climbing the ranks by achieving on the college level for the SLU Bilikens, and slowly jumping around from one European club to another before fully settling in at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, where he made his name.
Teaming up with his Bosnian compatriot Sejad Salihovic, Ibisevic electrified the Bundesliga with his goal poaching ability, and continued to flourish even after a season sending injury in early 2009 meant he would miss the rest of his breakout season.
For the national team, Ibisevic was always the good soldier. He was part of the golden generation, along with players such as Edin Dzeko, Sejad Salihovic, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Elvir Rahimic, and others. Contributing to six qualification campaigns, most notably the 2012 EURO and the 2014 World Cup campaigns, Ibisevic amassed 28 goals in 82 appearances for his country. Some of his goals were important as well, including a goal against Romania in 2011, that would keep Bosnia in the race for EURO qualification, as well a goal against Greece in 2013, in a vital 3-1 win that meant Bosnia would finish first in the group for the first time in the country’s history.
Now, as the national team enters uncertain waters yet again with Mehmed Bazdarevic’s ousting as manager, Ibisevic says goodbye. It remains to be seen whether Bosnia will fill Vedad’s boots ever again, but one thing is certain, it will be a tall task for any young striker. Vedo’s importance to the team and to the country goes beyond the sport.