Busch Stadium Soccer: Injury Pulls Messi from Roster, But Ibisevic Is the Real Draw

Categories: Sports

messi.jpg
Christopher Johnson on Flickr
Lionel Messi is out due to injury.
International soccer star Lionel Messi will not be on Busch Stadium's pitch Monday.

The best soccer player in the world will be out for eight weeks after tearing a left thigh muscle on Sunday, so he won't suit up for the international friendly between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

But for tens of thousands of St. Louis soccer fans, he was a secondary draw anyway.
If you want to see the real star of the show, keep your eye on Vedad Ibisevic, the Bosnian soccer player who adopted St. Louis as his hometown when he immigrated here as a teen. On Monday, he'll have the rapt attention and manic fandom of a city with more Bosnians per capita than anywhere outside Bosnia.

"Coaches should be telling their younger club players to go to this game and watch this player who started out just like them," says Mike Turner, who coached Ibisevic on a youth club team. "The Bosnian community has got to be going crazy."

ibisevic.jpg
vedadibisevic.ba
A photo for fans on Ibisevic's website.
Ibisevic played for Roosevelt High School and (now defunct) Busch Soccer League as a youth, and Turner remembers him as one of the most creative, driven players he'd ever seen.

"I knew fifteen minutes into a training session that he was a top player for his age, just the way he held the ball," Turner tells Daily RFT. "You could tell he spent just tons of time with the ball."

See also: If We're Such a Soccer Town, Why Doesn't St. Louis Have a Major League Soccer Team?

Turner remembers Ibisevic as the player who showed up first, played hard and left last. His eyes lit up when the coach brought out the bag of soccer balls.

"He was like a little kid in a candy store: 'Oh, Mr. Turner, can I have one of those balls?'"

ibisevicteam.jpg
Ulicar Streets on Flickr
Ibisevic is third from the left in the top row of this picture of the Bosnian team.
All sixteen of the players on Ibisevic's youth club team won college scholarships, and Ibisevic joined four other teammates at Saint Louis University, where he was named Soccer America Magaine's Freshman of the Year for scoring eighteen goals and four assists in 22 games.

"Everybody wanted to see Vedad," Turner says. "I think everybody wanted to play with him, and the teams wanted to play against him because he was so good."

Watch Ibisevic score the goal that will take his team to the World Cup after the jump.


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22 comments
Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

i`m just not afraid to state my opinion even if it is unpopular,,,,,just as you do yours

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

ray...i'm as conservative as they come and i get A LOT of hate thrown my way on this RFT page, but i work with quite a few bosnians and they are there on time, work hard, and get it done. no reason to hate on them.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

i work with some bosnians and they are good workers.

Darrell Ford
Darrell Ford

They all live in my hood, Bevo...and they are good neighbors. Hard working and have respect for the elders. I only have one complaint, they drive like maniacs and jay walk a lot.

Elizabeth Crist-Moore
Elizabeth Crist-Moore

Ray, Do you actually know any Bosnians? Or just make assumptions? Your generalizations are incredibly uneducated.

Almira Kovac
Almira Kovac

Kristen Franzeim ur so funny. Always thinking bout us Bosnians. :)

Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

oh yeah,,,and they will work for 8 an hour ,no benefits

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

I've had quite a few of them work for me, they are hard working, dedicated, loyal and trustworthy. Unlike many of our 'citizens'.

Scott Smith
Scott Smith

no, we don't have to ask. you make it painfully obvious.

Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

yeah because the government gives them money,,but a natural born us citizen can`t get a loan to do shit without jumping through 100 hoops

Elizabeth Crist-Moore
Elizabeth Crist-Moore

Seriously? They have come to the South Side and revitalized our neighborhood. Without them, our neighborhood would not have grown in so many positive ways.

Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

and you have to ask what is wrong with st louis?

m.d.
m.d.

The government doesn't give us anything! I came to St. Louis in 98 and we had a sponsor until they find you a minimum wage job plus first months rent and 500 in food stamps. Your issue is that you are prejudice and jelous because none of you americans are smart enough to do what Bosnians have done - we buy most things in cash, save, work hard, and don't live of off fast food like you do.

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