Not every career begins with a bang. And not every colossus is a colossus to begin with. For example, footballer Sasa Kalajdzic recalls his adolescent years vividly. His trainer dubbed him “Mickey Mouse” because of his small stature when he was 14 or 15 years old. At the time, a professional career was nothing more than a pipe dream for him.
Sasa Kalajdzic, on the other hand, has not only grown into a professional player with a market value of over 20 million euros, but he has also grown in strength and now stands at a full two meters. Few clubs are interested in signing the VfB Stuttgart striker. On Sunday, he might either further embarrass Berlin Bundesliga club Hertha BSC or, more likely, behead him.
“Sasa possesses a wide range of abilities that make him a near-complete attacker,” VfB sports director Sven Mislintat told the Tagesspiegel. “He has a strong grasp of the game, is technically sound, and is a difficult header to defend, not least because of his stature.”
In any event, the 24-year-old embodies the longing football talents that are more likely to be discovered in children’s bodies than in men’s bodies during their adolescent years. But it’s not just for that. Sasa Kalajdzic’s experience demonstrates that the path to becoming a professional does not have to be pre-planned. The Austrian was never enrolled in a traditional football academy, owing to his size. Visiting such training facilities is usually regarded a requirement for even a remote chance at professional football.
Kalajdzic spent the most of his youth footballing years with First Vienna FC, a famed Viennese amateur team. He was used in a variety of positions there, including defensive midfield on the six, playmaker as a conventional number 10, and striker. He was right where you needed him. Kalajdzic received an education that was continually unusual.
This is most likely what makes him one of the Bundesliga’s most interesting players. Sasa Kalajdzic is the type of player that academies strive for but seldom achieve due to stringent training and even life plans: an instinctive footballer.
Kickers like Kalajdzic are known as “Scheiß-mir-nix” kickers in Austria.
Kalajdzic is not only tall and strong in the air, but he also has the ability to move into the right spot at the right time and then attempt the correct shot with his head or foot. In the VfB blog “Vertikalpass,” Austrian journalist Daniel Mandl labeled Kalajdzic as a “shit-me-nix” kicker, which in Austria indicates that players like Kalajdzic frequently do the unexpected and startling.
This season, Kalajdzic has scored four goals and assisted on two others. That may appear to be a pitiful record, but the Austrian national player has only made eleven games in the league so far due to injury. If their best striker had been spared, the club would most likely not be in relegation trouble. Kalajdzic had 16 goals and six helpers in 33 games last season.
Borna Sosa, the attacker’s teammate at VfB Stuttgart, provides him with the best crosses on a daily basis. Ludovic Magnin and Mario Gomez, who won the championship with VfB in 2007, had a similar combination.
Kalajdzic’s popularity among football fans is likely owing to a lack of training in the football academy. The Austrian prides himself on wearing his heart on his sleeve. As far as I’m aware, he never speaks in well-rehearsed phrases. He refers to himself as a “idiot” on occasion and casually refers to the opponent’s goal as a “crap goal.”
The Stuttgart faithful, on the other hand, will almost certainly not be able to enjoy the refreshing Kalajdzic for much longer. For the traditional Swabian club, the man has simply grown too good. Kalajdzic turned down a contract extension offer from VfB a few weeks ago. Financially strong parties from Germany and abroad should be interested. Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan, Chelsea FC, and FC Bayern Munich are among the teams covered.
For the erstwhile First Vienna Mickey Mouse, these are some pretty big names.