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Breakthrough | The Rebirth of Edin Dzeko

Bosnia and Herzegovina, historically a war torn nation in Eastern Europe, allowed its football players to play for the Yugoslavian national team from 1920-1992. But following the outbreak of Bosnian War which subsequently led to Bosnian independence, a new football nation arose from the ashes of the old Yugoslavian football empire. The country had to wait till 2007 to see the birth of a footballing hero. In these 15 years from 1992 to 2007, Bosnia had performed decently in the international setup although failing to qualify for any major tournament. The footballing hero made his international debut in 2007 and has carried the Bosnian hopes with full commitment and responsibility. It is no wonder that he is a national icon in Bosnia and he goes by the name Edin Dzeko.

Edin Dzeko has been a prolific goal-scorer at every club he has played, at every tourney he has played and for his country too. Standing at 6’4”, Edin Dzeko is a typical old fashioned center-forward with brilliant finishing and heading abilities. He can be deployed both in a 2 striker system (partnering a more pacey striker) or in a more fluid single striker system. He can comfortably shoot with both the feet whilst also being a really good header of the ball. His positioning and movement are exemplary. He is your typical target man who are a dying breed of strikers now.

THE EARLY SUCCESS

Starting his career at Zeljeznicar, he was often deployed at the centre of the midfield. However he was not suited to that position due to lack of the necessary technical abilities. His coach, Jiri Plisek managed to find something no one else did. He advised Czech club FK Teplice to shell out 25 thousand dollars on a lanky youngster. Upon this transfer Zeljeznicar president was quoted saying “[We] thought we won the lottery”. He was initially loaned to another Czech team Usti Nad Labem. His impressive performances for the club were enough to warrant a first team chance at FK Teplice. He continued to thrive at FK Teplice. German coach Felix Magath took a keen interest and decided to shell out 4 million euros to sign Edin Dzeko for Wolfsburg.

Edin Dzeko was used on a rotational basis in his first season at the Volkswagen Arena. Nevertheless he took his chances very well ending the season with 8 goals and 7 assists in 17 starts. The arrival of fellow Bosnian international Zvejzdan Misimovic had significant impact in Edin Dzeko’s performances. Along with Misimovic and Brazilian Grafite, Dzeko would form an iconic trio nicknamed “the magic triangle”.

The magic triangle went on to lead Wolfsburg to their first ever Bundesliga title in history. Grafite scored 27 goals while Dzeko finished with 26 goals to end as the most successful strike duo in Bundesliga history. The duo was assisted by the creative genius of Misimovic as Wolfsburg had a record breaking 2008-09 season under Felix Magath.

Wolfsburg deployed a 5-3-2 formation in the 2008-09 season with Grafite and Edin Dzeko as strikers and Misimovic as the playmaker. Grafite and Edin Dzeko perfectly complemented each other. Grafite was a fast, mobile striker with a keen eye for goal and Edin Dzeko a physical specimen. Both of them had exemplary movement and a keen eye for goal. Along with Misimovic, their strengths were fully utilized in a direct system of play under Felix Magath. His sensational performances saw him in receiving the Bundesliga Players’ Player of the Year award.

These performances didn’t go unnoticed and he became one of Europe’s hottest properties. However he put an end to all speculation by renewing at the club till 2013. He once again impressed in Bundesliga in 2009-10 season singlehandedly winning games as the club failed to retain the league. Edin Dzeko, however managed to score 22 league goals which was enough for him to win the Bundesliga golden boot.

On August 28 2010, he surpassed Diego Klimowicz to become Wolfsburg’s all time leading goalscorer in the league. From August 2010 to the end of that year Dzeko would score 10 goals. In the winter transfer window he joined big spending English club Manchester City for a fee around 27 million Euros. He left Wolfsburg as the club’s all time leading goal-scorer a record that stands till day.

Manchester City had a lot of attacking options in Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. So he was used on a rotational basis and he had to wait till April to get his first league goal. Edin Dzeko started the next season in an amazing fashion. He scored a poker against Tottenham as Manchester City dumped the Spurs 5-0. His tally of 6 league goals saw him receive the EPL Player of the month for August. He ended the season with 19 goals in 40 appearances despite not being a regular starter. He scored the equalizing goal against QPR as Manchester City scored twice in the last minutes to extraordinarily snatch the league title from the hands of arch rivals Manchester United.

THE REGRESS

Despite scoring regularly in the limited chances, he would never fit in Roberto Mancini or Manuel Pellegrini’s plans in the coming seasons. Both these managers preferred a patient passing and build-up based approach, a system which wasn’t naturally suited for the Bosnian. So he had to play a bit part role. He still managed to score 14 goals in the league and 15 overall.  It was becoming increasingly clear that he wasn’t a part of the first team plans anymore and the arrival of Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo made it clear that he was not necessary to the team. This time also coincided with a drop in form. Although he score 16 league goals in 2013-14, he still wasn’t considered a starter and in the 2014-15 season he went on a run of 15 games without scoring

The arrival of Alvaro Negredo and poor form along with his inability to suit the team’s style took a huge toll on Edin Dzeko’s confidence. Despite being a prolific scorer, he could never really impose himself on the team. Soon it was clear that he had to leave. He joined AS Roma initially on a loan. He received the grandest of welcome by the Roma fans as they felt they had finally found a proper heir to the iconic Gabriel Batistuta. AS Roma also played a patient build up style and he struggled once again.

His form and confidence had taken a huge dip. He was criticised for his poor form and managed to score only  8 league goals in 31 appearances. He went on a stretch of not scoring a goal from mid November 2015 to February 2016. If you exclude penalties this run starts from September and lasted for 23 hours and 32 minutes. With two defenders always marking him he found it very difficult to create a telling impact. His poor run of form meant that even some of the Roma faithful started losing their patience with the Bosnian with some even nicknaming him Eden Cieco which translates to Eden the blind.

THE REBIRTH

Despite concerns of his poor form and an apparent lack of coincidence, Luciano Spalletti took a gamble by purchasing Edin Dzeko on a permanent deal. He even went on to praise Edin Dzeko and described him as the “perfect stereotype for a centre forward”. Edin Dzeko duly repaid the belief and trust of Spaletti by scoring 39 goals across the season and winning games on his own.

Being the focal point of a Roma side playing a quite direct style of play, Edin Dzeko terrorized Italian defences with his finishing and movement. He formed a lethal partnership with Mohamad Salah providing him with all the service in the world as the pair combined well throughout the season. By scoring a record breaking 39 goals he overtook Giallorossi legends Rodolfo Volk, Pedro Manfredini, Gabriel Batistuta and Francesco Totti who had all not scored more than 32 goals in a single season.

Having started the season in fine fashion by scoring 12 goals in his first 15 games and 17 in his first 20 appaerances, Dzeko broke some impressive AS Roma records. He scored two hat-tricks in the UEFA Europa League scoring in clutch games against Viktoria Pizen and Villareal. He scored in patches throughout the season which highlights how confidence and form are very valuable aspects to his game. His first scoring spree started at the start of the season lasting till the end of November. He scored 20 goals and created 2 assists in just 18 games across the four months.

He went on a goalless run of four games and scored just 1 in 7 games, but that didn’t last long. He hit goal scoring form and went on a run of scoring in 8 straight games scoring 11 goals in the process. He ended the season very strongly finding the back of net 8 times and assisting a further 6 goals in the last one and half months. His renaissance has to be credited to the manager Spaletti who managed to bring the best out of the clinical forward. The Roma wingers Mohammed Salah, Stephen El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti did a commendable job by working as a unit to play off Edin Dzeko and set him up rather than going for direct crosses.

In fact the whole team played well and they played as a team rather than having an individual star. The Bosnian star demonstrated his ability and won over the hearts of the Roma fans. Despite being 31, he still managed to have a stellar season scoring memorable goals against teams like Napoli and Inter Milan as Roma finished runners up to Juventus.

His efficiency in front of the goal rescued AS Roma many times and Dzeko must be regarded as a genuine striker in front of the goal. The numerous assists he created across the season shows his brilliant link up play which often goes unnoticed. He ended the season as the top scorer of the Serie A and the Europa League. He was also involved in most Serie A goals in the 2016-17 season with 29 goals and 9 assists. Truly a sensational season for the player nicknamed Bosnian Diamond.

After years of challenge and hard work on the pitch, Edin Dzeko seems to have completed his much awaited rebirth. Thanks to his ability inside the box Edin Dzeko reinvented himself in the 2016-17 season. His reversal of form led him to the Serie A Golden Boot and a fantastic season personally. It’s now safe to say that his renaissance is complete.

Keerthi Krishna

Keerthi Krishna

Lifelong Gooner. Loves everything Arsenal. Keen eye for deep lying and advanced playmakers. Johan Cruyff, Arsene Wenger, Zdenek Zeman and Marcelo Bielsa are gods. Dennis Bergkamp❤🙌
Keerthi Krishna
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