From Failing Midfielder to Elite Striker – The Story of Edin Dzeko

John Solano

In every football league, there is always one club which has a reputation for unearthing exceptionally talented youngsters. In the Bosnian league, that role belonged to FK Zeljeznicar from Sarajevo. Back in the early 2000s, they drafted a tall academy player from their youth system.

With limited technical or dribbling skills, that gangly youth was deemed unfit for a career at the elite level of football. But his coach, former Czech player Jiri Plisek, thought different. He had contacts at Teplice, a club in his homeland. Based on his advice, the club placed a €25,000 bid for the youngster.

The top brass at Zeljeznicar were shocked yet elated. They grabbed the opportunity with both hands. So did the young player, who was given a new role as the traditional number 9. He scored 13 goals in 30 games in the Czech league 2005-06 season, and the rest, as they say, is history.

That young 20-year old was a certain Edin Dzeko, who has since then evolved into one of the most consistent strikers across the top five European leagues in the last decade. He is not necessarily considered world-class – there are better, more talented strikers out there. But if you want an exceptional talent who gives his all for the club, you could ask for no better.

Now in the 33rd year of his life, Dzeko recently committed another three years to the Giallorossi, meaning he will probably see out the best of his career in Rome. Let’s retrace the steps that the “Bosnian Diamond” took after his discovery at Teplice.

Wolfsburg – Felix Magath’s Discovery

His exploits in the Czech league earned Dzeko a transfer to the neighboring Bundesliga, signed by managed Felix Magath at a newly resurgent Wolfsburg. In his first season, he scored 8, with seven assists in 17 games as the team qualified for Europe finishing fifth.

The next year, he was an integral part of the “Magic Triangle,” an attacking trio of Grafite, Dzeko, and midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic (also from Bosnia), who propelled Wolfsburg to their first-ever Bundesliga title. Dzeko was in searing form, scoring 26 goals.

Though he could not become the league top scorer that season, he achieved that record in the 2009-10 season with a haul of 22 goals. He also became the club’s all-time top scorer with 59 goals in 96 games. He continued scoring at a regular rate at the beginning of the 2010-11 season, before being sold to Manchester City for a record sum of €37.6 million.

Manchester City – In Aguero’s Shadow

At Wolfsburg, Dzeko and Grafite formed the deadliest strike combination in Bundesliga history. But at City, despite scoring at a regular rate, he was never a central cog in the team. In his five seasons in England, he scored a total of 72 goals, with 50 of them in the league.

His contributions at City can be summed up in one single match – that iconic match on the last day of the 2011-12 season when City dramatically clinched the league. It is Aguero’s goal that everyone remembers from that match against QPR at home. He may have won it in the 91st minute, but City was trailing earlier, and it was Dzeko who scored the equalizer.

In his first three full seasons at City, he scored an average of 15 goals in the league. The third, 2013-14, was his best with a total haul of 26 goals. But his performances dipped in the next season with just six goals out of 32 appearances. After heavy speculation, Dzeko finally made a move to the Serie A in a loan move to Roma.

AS Roma – Rise To Club Legend

Unlike his stint at City, Dzeko may not have won the league or many titles during his five years in Rome, but he has become an integral part of this Roma side. He is no longer a “super-sub” operating in the shadow of Aguero.

Such has been his scoring form in Italy, he now sits seventh on Roma’s all-time goalscorers list. He is also the only active player in the top 20 list. If he continues to play for another couple of seasons, Dzeko could easily break into the top five list. Montella, Manfredini, Volk, and Amadei are all within reach.

Just another 21 goals separate him from the third spot on the list, where he would sit behind the legends Totti and Pruzzo. In his club career, Dzeko has several records to his name. Perhaps the most telling of them all is this – he is the first player to score 50 goals each for three different clubs in the top five European leagues!

To cap that amazing career, he needs a Serie A title with Roma, which would sit perfectly with the Bundesliga and Premier League winner’s medals in his trophy cabinet. Unfortunately, the chances of that happening look slim this season, if the odds are anything to go by. Juventus are the bookies’ favorite, with odds of 1/3, 2/5, and 4/11.

Close behind are Inter, who looks quite strong this year under Conte. They are at 4/1, 10/3, and 7/2 in the bookies’ ratings. Roma is somewhere in the top five, with odds varying between 50 and a 100. If you still like those numbers and want to put a wager on the Giallorossi, here is a list of all the latest football free betting and sign-up offers.

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MatchDay 38
26 May 20:45