- Amira Spahic captains Bosnia and Herzegovina's women’s national team
- She shares more than just a name with men’s captain Emir Spahic
- Bosnia and Herzegovina are still yet to qualify for a major tournament
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Emir Spahic is held in the highest regard. The tenacious defender is revered as the embodiment of courage and fighting spirit, virtues that have long since established him as a fixture in the national team. Indeed, with 93 caps to his name, the talismanic captain holds his country’s record for the most international appearances. Simply put, Emir Spahic is a Bosnian legend.
But he is not the only one. For there is another Spahic who enjoys a similar status among her peers in the women’s game.
Born in 1983, Amira Spahic is three years younger than Emir, but the similarities that have been drawn between the pair extend far beyond their surnames. They wear the same shirt number and play in the same position, in addition to sharing the unique status of being both their country’s captain and most capped player. And, although not related in any way, a special bond has evidently formed between these two Bosnian football icons.
We’re both warriors. We give our hearts and souls for the national jersey.
“He’s my role model,” the SFK 2000 Sarajevo centre-back explained to FIFA.com. “He’s the best defender our national team has ever had. He plays with his heart, with guts. He would give everything for his country. I’m a fan of him, both as a player and as a person. I’ve had the honour of meeting him just once, in Sarajevo, when the national team were playing Turkey. It’s a memory that I still cherish.”
Just like Emir, who became the first player to captain his country at a major international tournament, Amira is sure to go down in the history books of Bosnian football. Since making her international debut at only 16 years of age, she has played an important role in her team’s steady ascent up the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking. When she became captain, Bosnia and Herzegovina occupied a lowly 95th position. Eight years down the line and the team are on the verge of breaking into the top 60 in the world.
“I’m very proud to have played a part in this development,” she enthused. “Women’s football has come on leaps and bounds in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just as it has in many other European countries. I don’t think we’re far off the top nations in Europe any more. In any case, we’re working really hard to close that gap, and it’s getting narrower and narrower.”
Stepping aside for the youngsters, embracing greatness
Until now, Spahic’s Bosnia and Herzegovina team have not managed to qualify for a major international tournament. That could all be about to change, however, with the team occupying joint-second place in Group 1 following a promising start to their qualification campaign for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™. They currently sit level on points with England, their opponents on 24 November, and a point behind Wales, who they are due to take on four days later.
— NFS BIH (@NFSBiH) November 20, 2017
“Qualification is now a realistic objective for us. We may still have a young team, but the future is bright,” observed Spahic, somewhat of an elder statesman in a national team with an average age of just 23 years. “I like this team. There’s a mutual respect between the younger players and myself. They know that they can count on me. For my part, I try to draw on all my experience to help them as much as I can. I plan on fulfilling this role for another two or three years, and then I‘ll step aside for the youngsters once and for all!”
Whenever that moment comes, she can rest assured that a place has already been reserved for her at the top table of her nation’s greatest footballers. And naturally enough, she will have pride of place in the seat directly alongside her namesake.