Number of Bosnian Players to have played in the Premier League: 6
Most appearances: Asmir Begovic (252)
Most goals: Edin Dzeko (50)
Appearances: Asmir Begovic 252, Edin Dzeko 130, Sead Kolasinac 64, Muhamed Besic 38, Muhamed Konjic 16, Mario Vrancic 4
Goals: Edin Dzeko 50, Sead Kolasinac 2, Asmir Begovic 1
Assists: Edin Dzeko 24, Sead Kolasinac 13
All data correct upto Friday 13th December 2019
The city of Sarajevo may have hosted a Winter Olympics in 1984 but Bosnia-Herzegovina remains a sleeping giant in the game of football. The international team have had their moments, qualifying for their maiden World Cup finals in 2014. However, they haven’t reached any European Championship finals yet and their participation for 2020 hangs in the balance as they are in the play-offs taking place in March.
On a worldwide scale, Bosnia does have some talented players and also, experienced pros. Miralem Pjanic is often considered one of the best passers in the game. Pjanic has enjoyed a wealth of success in Italy with Juventus. Meanwhile in Germany, Vedad Ibisevic is one of only four players playing in the 2019-2020 Bundesliga season to have amassed 100 goals in their career. He’s in elite company, sharing that feat with Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Thomas Müller.
Another Bosnian who made their mark in the Bundesliga was Edin Dzeko. He remains VfL Wolfsburg’s all-time leading goalscorer in German football. Dzeko was part of one of the league’s greatest-ever partnerships. Together with Grafite, they scored over 50 goals together, shooting the Wolves to the 2008-2009 title. Manchester City were impressed and in January 2011, made an offer Wolfsburg couldn’t refuse. Dzeko was on his way to the Premier League.
When he left in the summer of 2015 for his current club, AS Roma, Dzeko left as a double Premier League title winner and with 50 goals scored. His total is unlikely to be beaten for a long time by a Bosnian player in the history of the Premier League. Dzeko had an uncanny habit of coming off the bench and scoring vital goals – especially in 2013-2014 as Manchester City edged out Liverpool FC to claim their second championship in three years. His greatest Premier League performance came in August 2011. Dzeko scored four goals at White Hart Lane in an irresistible display as City won 5-1 against Tottenham Hotspur.
Dzeko wasn’t the first Bosnian though to play Premier League football. That honour falls to Muhamed Konjic. The 6ft defender had been part of a talented AS Monaco side in 1998 that had knocked Manchester United out of the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage. Konjic was signed by Gordon Strachan for Coventry City in 1999. He kept a clean sheet on his debut in February 1999 in a goalless draw with Tottenham. Injuries restricted him though to just 16 Premier League appearances as the Sky Blues tumbled out of the top-flight in 2001. He stayed in the Midlands until 2006, going on also to play for Derby County.
Another ex-Bosnian Premier League player is the likeable Asmir Begovic. Begovic has embarked on a new challenge in the summer of 2019, signing for Azerbaijan club Qarabag on-loan. Like Dzeko, he is a Premier League title winner. Although he played back-up to Thibaut Courtois during Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 campaign, the Blues received special dispensation from the league to give Begovic a title winners’ medal. He also is among the rare crop of goalkeepers to have scored in the Premier League. Begovic’s moment came in November 2013, when his goal-kick for Stoke City against Southampton flew over the top of opposite goalie Artur Boruc, helped by the gusty wind inside The Britannia Stadium. It was at Stoke where Begovic enjoyed his most productive Premier League spell, playing 160 times for the Potters. Begovic has also played for two south coast clubs, Portsmouth and AFC Bournemouth. Some error-strewn performances and disagreements with Eddie Howe saw Begovic slip to fourth-choice last season and ultimately, onto pastures new in a new country.
There are three Bosnian players currently playing in the Premier League. Defensive midfielder Muhamed Besic is currently on Sheffield United’s books on-loan from Everton. Injuries have restricted his impact since he came to English football in 2014. Mario Vrancic came into the Premier League this season along with newly-promoted Norwich City. Currently a bit-part player, Vrancic is biding his time to make his impact on the league. He scored 10 times last season in the Canaries’ successful title-winning campaign in the Championship, including the goal against Blackburn Rovers that ended their three-year exile from the top-flight.
Sead Kolasinac has made 64 appearances since joining Arsenal from FC Schalke 04 in 2017. He arrived with a strong reputation, having been voted into the Bundesliga Team of the Year in his final year in Gelsenkirchen. Kolasinac has shown a strong attacking instinct but as a left-back, his positioning has been found out on occasion, frustrating many Gunners supporters. Kieran Tierney’s arrival this summer from Celtic means Kolasinac’s regular spot in the Arsenal team is now under severe threat.
Considering only six Bosnian players have figured in the Premier League so far, a 33% title-winning ratio success thanks to Dzeko and Begovic is a very creditable and decent statistic to boast about.