Dejan Lovren, football player born in BiH, who plays for the National football team of Croatia, in a documentary for Liverpool TV, told his life story – how he reached the status of football star from a refugee from BiH.
He also expressed the support for refugees from Syria and Afghanistan…
The territory of the former Yugoslavia is the one that caused the largest number of migrations during the 90’s. A war was raging, and the worst was in BiH where, according to official data, 2.2 million people fled, as reported by Goal.
A large number of current players of the national team of BiH were one of those people, but not Edin Dzeko, the captain of the Dragons who spent his childhood in Sarajevo during the war and survived the massacre of children in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Otoka as a six-year-old.
“I remember I cried a lot as a child because there was a possibility for someone to kill you at any moment. My mother saved my life when she did not allow me to play football with my friends on the meadow one day. A couple of minutes later, a grenade fell on the meadow and many of my friends were killed,” recalled Dzeko.
Instead of prestigious academies, Dzeko nurtured his talent on the concrete sidewalk that was full of holes from shelling. And he succeeded! He left home and his family as an 18-year-old when he went to the Czech Republic where he needed only two years to attract the attention of Felix Magath and Wolfsburg. The rest is history…
Unlike Dzeko, Asmir Begovic, Vedad Ibisevic, and Haris Medunjanin had to leave their homes in BiH during the war.
Begovic was exiled from his native Trebinje as a four-year-old boy, his family first went to Germany and then to Canada, where he played for young national teams. His career was built through the English clubs who brought him up to the national champion Chelsea.
“I was a child, but I know that the towns in my country were bombed, and people had to hide under the ground,” said Begovic in an interview for the British Independent.
Vedad Ibisevic had to leave his birthplace as well. Vedo was born in Vlasenica, in which the life for Bosniak residents was anything but easy at the beginning of the war. During the war were killed close to 3,000 people from Vlasenica, and among them was Vedo’s grandfather.
“My mother dug a pit in a forest near the house for me and my sister, it was wide and long about a meter and 0.5 meter deep. It looked just as grave. One morning she took us to this place that was covered with sheets and pillows and told us to hide. That morning, Serbian soldiers came to our street. We heard shouting, swearing and breaking into houses. My most important task was to prevent my three-year-old sister from crying. If they heard and found us, they would get us to the concentration camp,” Vedad recalled.
His mother finally ‘bought’ exit from Vlasenica in exchange for a house and permission to go to Tuzla where Ibisevic started his football career. Since there was no normal life after the war, Ibisevic’s family went to Switzerland and then the United States. Vedad’s successful career later took him to France and Germany.
Haris Medunjanin escaped to the Netherlands with his mother and sister. He was seven years old when they went from besieged Sarajevo back in 1992. His father stayed in BiH where he died.
“We had nothing, we left Sarajevo with nothing, and mom still managed to find some things, I do not know where. I now play for them to be happy, I’m in the second place,” recalled Medunjanin, who played for the youth national teams of the Netherlands, and wears the jersey of native BiH since 2009.