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‘Next Lionel Messi’ Bojan Crick Learned, Had to Suffer in Nomadic Career MPNRC News

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‘Next Lionel Messi’ Bojan Crick Learned, Had to Suffer in Nomadic Career

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Former Barcelona prodigy Bojan Krik is playing in his seventh country and “nothing will change” about a career that began with him christening the next Lionel Messi and now sees him in Japan.

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Many young forwards are touted as the new Messi, but Bojan – who had the same floppy hair as the Argentine – seemed destined for the very top indeed.

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At 17 years and 19 days, in 2007 the Spaniard became the youngest player to represent Barcelona in La Liga, a feat previously held by Messi. Bojan scored 41 goals in 163 appearances for the club.

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Fast forward and Bojan, now 31, has reunited with former Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta in Japan after joining Vissel Kobe last summer after varying successes in Italy, Holland, England, Germany and Canada .

“All the circumstances, your experiences – not only in football but in life – everything can be better and everything can be worse,” he told AFP of his wandering path since leaving Camp Nou in 2011.

“I am in my 15th year as a professional footballer, playing in big leagues, big clubs at a high level. I’m really proud of everything I’ve done.”

Bojan said he was “living a dream” after joining Barcelona’s first team as a teenager and playing alongside club legends such as Ronaldinho, Xavi and of course Messi.

He won two Champions League and three Spanish league titles with the club he joined at the age of nine, but his time came to an end when he was sold to Italian side Roma.

He said that he “didn’t realize a world behind Barcelona’s doors” until he left Camp Nou, but he was glad he expanded his horizons.

“I realized that there are many clubs, many countries, many places to live and learn. Thanks to football, I got this opportunity,” he said.

“Everywhere I’ve been, I learn, I enjoy, I suffer. I’ve grown as a person and a footballer and I’m really proud of that.”

Premier League success

Bojan failed to make an impression during his stints with Roma, AC Milan and Ajax, but he says he played “probably the best” football of his career during his three-and-a-half seasons with Stoke City in England. There he is still fondly remembered today.

He assisted the Potters in the top half of the Premier League every season from 2013 to 2016 under manager Mark Hughes and said the club “will always be in my heart”.

“The Premier League is to me the best league in the world, it’s where you enjoy real football, proper football,” he said.

“In all the stadiums where you play, you can smell the history, you can smell the respect for the game and the players.”

Now Bojan is playing in Japan with Iniesta, who despite turning 38 earlier this month is still going strong.

Bojan says the World Cup-winning Spain legend has given him no indication of when he will retire and the pair “only talk about that moment”.

Xavi, a former Barcelona teammate of both players, returned to the Camp Nou last year to take over as manager.

Bojan believes that Iniesta can “do whatever he wants” when he finally hangs up his shoes.

“He can be a coach, he can be a sports director, he can get into business,” Bojan said.

“I think he can be of great help with the individual side of the players – the value of the game that you can learn from a player like him.”

As far as Bojan himself is concerned, he says he has no thoughts of retiring right now, but he is already planning to move into football administration when he does.

He took a course in sports management when the pandemic started and feels it would be better to work as a general manager than a coach at the touchline.

“For me, I think the most important thing when you sign a player is that you sign a human being,” he said.

“I like that side, understanding a player, building a team that can win, but building a team that you can help players grow.”

Read all the latest news, breaking news and IPL 2022 live updates here.

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