Vedad Ibisevic- Rolling Back the Years and Banging in the Goals

Readers of a certain age might remember the 1985 film Cocoon, where a group of old age pensioners in a retirement home were able to rejuvenate themselves in the swimming pool rented next door by alien visitors to Earth. Yes, I know it sounds far-fetched, but this was the 80’s so bear with me.

It now seems that a similar scenario might be playing out in the German capital with Bosnian striker Vedad Ibisevic taking dips in an alien Schwimmbad enabling him to roll back the years and perform in the early weeks of the new Bundesliga season as if he were ten years younger.

Hertha Berlin have surprised many observers with the great start they have made to the 2018-19 season- none more so than with their 2-0 win over Bayern Munich on matchday 6. Ondrej Duda has been the star man with his five goals, while the likes of Javairo Dilrosun and Valentino Lazaro have also impressed, but the early season form of veteran striker and captain Vedad Ibisevic has also been worthy of note.

Much has been made of Hertha’s impressive array of young talent deployed in the opening six weeks of the 2018-19 season with Arne Maier, Javairo Dilrosun, Marko Grujić, Palko Dardai and Dennis Jastrzembski all getting game time, but it has been old-timer Ibisevic, who had been leading by example.

Indeed, the last time Hertha Berlin beat Bayern Munich, they had a certain Pal Dardai in their midfield on matchday 20 of the 2008-09 season. Meanwhile on the very same day Bosnian hit-man Ibisevic was out injured for Hoffenheim, having scored an astounding 18 goals in 17 matches in the Hinrunde. Ten years later and he is still hitting the back of the net in the Bundesliga with regularity.

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Now aged 34, Ibisevic has lost none of his goalscoring instinct and has begun the season with four goals in Hertha’s opening six league outings- a feat which has pushed him into the top 10 list of the clubs all-time scorers. He has also joined an elite list of players to have scored 30 Bundesliga goals for three different clubs (Hoffenheim-43, VfB Stuttgart-33, Hertha Berlin-32).

“The experienced players should be the pillars for the team, and they are in our game right now,” praised Hertha Manager Preetz recently. “It starts with Rune Jarstein in goal and stops with our two grandfathers in attack (Ibisevic and Kalou). The boys around them are doing a great job.”

The US educated striker is showing that he has no intention of slowing down and like Franck Ribéry (35) and Arjen Robben (34) over at Bayern still has plenty of gas in the tank. Ibisevic- a refugee from the Bosnian War of the mid-1990’s settled in the United States and began his playing career at Roosevelt High School in Missouri before going on to play for Saint Louis Billikens, St.Louis Strikers and Chicago Fire Premier. He then returned to Europe with Paris Saint-Germain and the rest, as they say, is history.

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With Davie Selke out following his pneumothorax lung operation, the Bosnian has been the regular striker for Hertha and the goals have flowed. His goal on the opening day was enough to see off newly promoted Nürnberg and then he helped himself to a brace in the 4-2 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. On matchday 6 he kept his cool from the penalty spot to help Hertha on the way to their impressive victory over Bayern.

With Selke finally returning to fitness, Ibisevic faces added competition for his place, but based on early-season form and goals, it could be a tough task for the youngster to dislodge the veteran.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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