kicker article (07.08.14) – Leverkusen: Defender wants to concentrate on Bayer

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Spahic Quits the Dragons

Emir Spahic has ended his national team career.  The long-time captain of the Bosnian national team made his decision public on Thursday.  “After thinking about it for a long time, and after many discussions with family and friends, I made the decision to retire [from the national team],” said the 33 year-old, who now wants to concentrate solely on Bayer Leverkusen.  

His greatest success with the Dragons was the qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brasil.  Spahic was a part of the Bosnian national team for over a decade; his debut was on June 7, 2003 against Romania, after which he played in 77 further games for the national team.  His best memory is still participation in the World Cup, even though the Bosnians went out in the first round with one victory (3:1 vs. Iran) but two losses against Argentina and Nigeria.  “I’m proud that we qualified for the World Cup,” said the [Bosnian] regular, who now wants to make room for younger players. “It’s time to go.”

“It is going to be difficult to replace him, we are really going to miss him,” said national team trainer Safet Susic wistfully about Spahic’s decision, but he also displayed understanding.  “Bayer Leverkusen is playing Champions League football and the competition for his position is very strong,” Susic explains.  “He wants to concentrate on his club career.”  The competition at the interior defender position has intensified in Leverkusen, particularly after the transfer of Kyriakos Papadopoulos from Schalke 04.  Besides the Greek player, Oemer Toprak, Philipp Wollscheid, and Spahic are competing for the two positions in the center of the back four.

Spahic’s compatriot and national team teammate Edin Dzeko responded immediately on Facebook.  “You were more than our captain, you were a friend and a brother,” wrote the striker emotionally.  “I’m sorry that you are leaving because I know that the national team holds an important place in your heart.”

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