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From Bosnia To Bundesliga Via St. Louis

Former St. Louis University striker Vedad Ibisevic, 24, has been a scoring sensation this season in the German Bundesliga. On Saturday he scored his 17th goal of the season for league-leading Hoffenheim in just 15 games, and this Friday will appear for his team against the reigning champion, second-placed Bayern Munich.

"It is kind of a dream," Ibisevic told Jack Bell. "A very nice dream." The forward spent one season as a junior at St. Louis (18 goals and four assists in 22 games), has so far made 11 appearances for the Bosnia-Herzegovina national team, and undertook a journey to the top of the Bundesliga via the U.S. fourth-tier Premier Development League, French second division team Dijon, and a first spell in the Bundesliga with Alemannia Aachen, where he scored six times in the team's relegation year.

"My family, mother, father and sister are still in St. Louis, and I'll be back there on our [Bundesliga] Christmas break," Ibisevic said. "I was 16 when we moved to St. Louis. I kind of spoke some school English, but then found out I didn't really speak any English at all because of the whole slang stuff. I had to start from zero. When I came to St. Louis, German was my second language."

Ibisevic, whose family came to St. Louis via Switzerland as part of a United Nations re-settlement program for refugees following the Yugoslav civil war in the 1990s, said Hoffenheim was promoted to the Bundesliga "not knowing where we would stand. We are playing without pressure and we have gotten more and more confidence. People love the way we play football." It has scored 40 goals in 15 games using three strikers and two attacking midfielders under coach Ralf Rangnick.

Now the imminent January transfer window is fueling rumors of a move to an even bigger club, but Ibisevic is "only trying to concentrate on this season. I can't think about any offers or what I'm going to do next season. I've learned in my career that it is difficult to plan or wish for something."


Read the whole story at New York Times »

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