Hasan Salihamidzic is one of the elite group who became a crowd hero with Bayern Munich. Week in, week out, the tireless Bosnian pounded out the kilometres up and down the flanks and battled away right through to the final whistle.
His spell with Germany’s biggest club brought a host of silverware, with six German championships, four German knockout cup triumphs, the UEFA Champions League, and the Intercontinental Cup. He missed the 2001 final in Tokyo with injury but remains proud of the achievement, as he revealed to FIFA.com: "Being able to call yourself a Club World Cup winner is terrific."
Brazzo also made 44 appearances for Bosnia and Herzegovina, many of them as captain. He is naturally overjoyed to see his country finally set for an outing on the world stage at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
FIFA.com spoke to Salihamidzic about what appearing at the World Cup means to Bosnia, how they might fare in Brazil, and which of the current Bayern players he would gladly have called his team-mates.
FIFA.com: What did winning the 2001 Intercontinental Cup mean to you?
Hasan Salihamidzic: It was one of the biggest things you can achieve in the game. Being able to call yourself a club World Cup winner is terrific. I was overjoyed when we added the trophy to our triumph in the Champions League.
How would the Bayern team of 2001 get on against the 2013 UEFA Champions League winning side?
It’s a match I’d certainly like to see. The current group are playing unbelievably good football and they’re breaking record after record. But I reckon the lads from 2001 would get stuck in and make a game of it. Today’s lads are 100 per cent better in footballing terms, although we did have top-class players like Giovane Elber and Mehmet Scholl. But yes, it’s a match I’d definitely like to see!
Where do Bayern stand in the wider world nowadays?
FC Bayern is a global brand and getting bigger all the time. That wasn’t yet the case in 2001. It’s amazing when you see how many TV stations send people and where they come from. There’s explosive growth at Bayern, although the whole set-up is perhaps still even bigger at Barcelona and Real. Bayern are certainly aiming to become as big. Winning the Champions League and perhaps going on to win the Club World Cup can only help them keep growing.
If you could name only two, which of today’s Bayern players would you most like to have called team-mates?
I did actually play with a few of them, the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Claudio Pizarro, Daniel van Buyten, and Mario Mandzukic when I was with Wolfsburg. But it would be terrific to have Franck Ribery on my team. It’s very hard if you’re restricting me to two. You could basically pick any of them, but Ribery would certainly be one.
What does it mean to you personally and to Bosnia-Herzegovina as a nation to be competing at next summer’s World Cup in Brazil?
It’s very special indeed. It’s something we’ve been trying to achieve since the end of the civil war, or in fact during it. We’re all thrilled. The nation is in a tough situation, but qualifying has brought a new sense of optimism to the country, and that’s fantastic.
How did you feel when Bosnia sealed their place in Brazil?
We were all unbelievably pleased and it was a huge relief. We narrowly missed out on qualifying for the last two big tournaments, EURO 2012 and the 2010 World Cup. It felt even better when we finally made it.
Vedad Ibisevic scored the decisive goal. What kind of guy is he?
The team is very well put together and a good unit. Almost all of them play overseas, and the coach is doing a great job. Vedad is an important member of the team and a good, upbeat lad. I was delighted for him when he scored that historic goal.
What was the decisive factor in the qualifying campaign?
The make-up of the team. The association is doing a lot of very good, focused work. They brought in Safet Susic, a coach who has the players well under control. And at the end of the day we have really good players, headed up by Edin Dzeko, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Miralem Pjanic, Emir Spahic and Ibisevic. They all play for good, big clubs. And the lads get along together well, which is very important.
What are the chances of Bosnia doing well in Brazil?
I have no idea. The team is capable of outstanding football. We only lost once in qualifying, and it was an unlucky home defeat. If we can keep it up, we could survive the group. But it’s our first go at the World Cup and you usually need past experience. We have plenty of characters in the team but very little experience of the level required for a huge tournament like this. Surviving the group stage would count as a massive success.