Grazie, Asmir Begović

This was supposed to be a welcome back post, or perhaps a player profile post that I had been waiting to write until Begović came back to Milan. It almost seemed a foregone conclusion that he would return, given how well he fit in at Milan and all that he brought to the club in addition to being an excellent, experienced goalkeeper. However, Milan made a different choice, seemingly because of finances, and now this is a farewell post instead. Grazie, Asmir Begović.


Grazie


Begović joined Milan in January, on loan from Bournemouth. Some worried that Pepe Reina leaving would cost the team leadership, but that was never the case. In fact, many fans noticed that this past six months was the most calm and settled that Gigio Donnarumma has ever been. Not only him, but between the fiery leadership that Ibrahimović brought in, there was a noticeable calm throughout the squad.

 

This leadership was not a coincidence. Begović has actually captained his Bosnian national team, where he has played a total of 63 caps, including starting for Bosnia at their first World Cup in 2014. He was also named Bosnian Footballer of the Year in 2012, a rare honor for a goalkeeper.


Leadership


Most of his club football was played in England, where he won the Premier League with Chelsea. Many know him for his time at Stoke City, because he scored the world record longest goal while he was there. His reaction then was humble, and he is still quite humble about it now. Milan were incredibly lucky to have a goalkeeper who not only was so talented, but also had so much experience to bring to the team.

 

Begović also brought plenty of life experience with him that clearly influenced his character and humility. While he was born in Yugoslavia, he and his family were twice refugees because of the wars in his homeland. They first moved to Germany when he was four years old, then moved again to Canada. While some would use having to move and start over twice as an excuse, he instead embraced sports and the winning attitude that has brought him so much success.


Talent


While in high school, Begović was actually being scouted for his basketball skills, and played volleyball and football as well. However, in the end he chose football, and ended up representing Canada’s national teams up through the U23 level. In fact, he was named as the Canadian Player of the Year in 2007 after his heroics in the FIFA U20 World Cup.

 

It is not a huge surprise that he chose football over basketball, as his grandfather and father were both goalkeepers, as is his younger brother currently. Family has always been important to him, and he is a devout husband and father of two now. His values and character made him an ideal player for Milan, an amazing example for the younger players, one who could offer wisdom and experience both in football and in life.


Family

Milan are saying goodbye to an amazing ambassador, as well. When COVID-19 shut everything down, Begović stayed very busy giving interviews and representing Milan in the best way possible. Having his own charity, the Asmir Begović Foundation, which focuses on building sports facilities for children and adults in both England and Bosnia, he also got involved with other charities during the shutdown. For example, he offered his support to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.) He even played a PES match against former fellow refugee, Alphonso Davies, to raise money for refugees impacted by the global pandemic. (Spoiler alert: Begović won.)

 

Apparently subscribing to the theory that there is no rest for the weary, and being a very passionate fan of so many sports, Begović also created his own podcast, called Season of Sports. This is a fantastic opportunity for fans to hear a professional athlete talk about the sports and teams that he loves, interview others from the sports industry, and just generally be a fan himself. For those of us who have listened to his podcast, it allowed a unique insight into a player’s world, and provided a certain relatability as a fan, as well.


Fan

In his spare time, Begović is actively helping to build the next generation of goalkeepers. He has his own line of goalkeeping gloves and products, with his latest line launched with an ad shot at the San Siro and the Milan dressing room, and the gloves all bearing Italian names. It is clear that Milan meant a lot to him, as well. Begović is also involved in training, conferences, and more for goalkeepers as well.

 

On the pitch, Begović is a keeper who was able to push Gigio, someone with both the skills and experience to make them both better. Off the pitch, as you can see, he is so much more. He is always giving back, whether it be representing Milan, doing charity work, or helping future goalkeepers. A testament to the kind of person and player that he is that this summer, he was appointed to the FIFPro Global Player Council, which oversees the rights of players worldwide, not just those in the major European Leagues. I cannot imagine someone better prepared to represent players to ensure the safety and rights of players than Begović.


Recordholder


On a personal level, I have really enjoyed listening to his podcast, he is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about so many sports. He also was kind enough to talk to me on my podcast back in April, right after everything shut down. It was in doing the research for the interview that I realized what an incredibly valuable player Milan had, and I truly hoped that he would be able to stay on after the loan. It is reported that our players had wanted him to stay, as well, and that he was willing to accept a significant pay cut to stay. We can only wish him the very best in his future and hope that his future offers him a fraction of what he brings to the table. A club would be lucky to have him.


Exemplary

Milan are losing more than a really great goalkeeper, whose wisdom, leadership, and experience were world class. Most Milan fans probably know him mainly from the two appearances he made in March, with that brilliant first save immediately after coming on for Gigio, and almost saving that Pulgar penalty, as well. But he is so much more than just a 6’6” athlete with gloves. He is an extraordinary human being, and that is not something that is easily replaced. Milan had him on loan for six months, but he gave us so much more than he was paid to give. And now he leaves some very big shoes to fill. Grazie, Asmir Begović.

 

 

This post inspired by the music of Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”

 

 

Our next match is a friendly

Milan vs. Brescia

Saturday, September 12 • 17:00 CEST (11am EDT)

This match will be streamed LIVE on the Milan App

Grazie, Asmir Begović Grazie, Asmir Begović Reviewed by Elaine on 12:30 AM Rating: 5
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