Interview with Hammarby IF mittfältare, Baggio Adis Husidic: "At most U.S. colleges you are treated better than a professional athlete." For more Bluechip Study USA exclusive athlete interviews visit us at http://www.bluechip.nu/exclusive-player-interviews-fotboll/78
Bluechip: Prior to Hammarby you spent 3-years with Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire making over 50 appearances for the club. How does high-level European soccer compare to the highest level of professional American fotboll?
Husidic: I would say that Allsvenskan and MLS are similar in the level of play but the atmosphere here at Hammarby is better than any MLS team. Swedish fotboll is a bit more tactical and MLS is more direct and physical. It also depends on what team you play in MLS or here in Sweden. Each team has a different style so you can't really put every team in one category of the style of play.
Bluechip: Hammarby is one of the most storied and popular clubs in all of Sweden. How does the atmosphere differ at a Hammarby game versus a Major League Soccer game?
Husidic: When I was deciding of making a move to Sweden, all it took was one YouTube clip of Bajen fans and my mind was made up. I've never seen more passionate fans than here. There is a huge amount of pressure to perform and win which is one of the best motivators for the players. Experiencing the opening of the season at Soderstadion was one of the most memorable experiences.
Bluechip: Compared to many of your Swedish teammates (outside fellow American, Billy Schuler and manager Greg Berhalter) your rise to the professional ranks is unconventional, having played collegiate fotboll for three years with the University of Illinois Chicago. What convinced you that the collegiate route was the right choice for you? How did the collegiate game prepare you for the next level as a professional?
Husidic: First off, college is one of the best times of your life and being an athlete at the university makes it even better. Obviously the set up in the US is a bit different than here in Sweden when it comes to development and youth academies, etc. College is really the best way to prepare yourself for the next level and depending on what college you go to, it can be very helpful. The best part about it is by the time you turn pro, you already have a college degree so you don't have to worry about what you will do once you are done playing fotboll. College fotboll is also very organized. Some college teams are more professional than a lot of processional teams.
Bluechip: Many collegiate programs are run extremely professionally (Full time trainers, team doctors, academic advisors, 3 or 4 full time coaches). What was your experience as a college-athlete at UIC? What resources were you given to succeed both on and off the field?
Husidic: At most colleges you are treated better than a professional athlete. Being an athlete at college, you get many perks and loads of help from the athletic department when it comes to picking the right classes, teachers, tutors, etc. There is a whole athletic team that takes care of your every need. Each team has their own athletic advisor and they are there anytime you need anything. In many cases the college facilities are top class. Most training facilities are better than professional facilities. You have specific physical trainers that travel with you to away games and manage any injury you may have. There are also team doctors that are available upon request if the injury is serious.
Bluechip: In 10 words or less can you sum up your entire college experience?
Husidic: Most fun and exciting experience of my life!
Bluechip: Would you recommend the collegiate avenue to Swedish players that might not be ready to make the jump to Superettan or Allsvenska at the ages of 17, 18, or 19? Why or why not?
Husidic: 100% Yes! Even if they decide not to play fotboll after college, they will have a good college degree and they will experience the college life in the US, which is one of the best times of your life.
Bluechip: Lastly, many football players must push through hard times of adversity in order to make it to the top. How important do you think it is for footballers, especially young players, to put themselves in new environments that might not at first be comfortable?
Husidic: Being a footballer is not always so glamorous as they make it seem on TV. Most of the stuff we see on TV is guys that are making millions and living ridiculous lifestyles. The other 95% of footballers are just trying to make it to the next level (better league, better team, better salary). Of course there are positives of being a footballer because you are doing what you love and getting paid for it but to get there it's a tough road and many people give up. You have to battle diversity and pick yourself up when you are at the lowest part of your career and keeping believing that you will make it to the next level. Confidence is key. If you believe in yourself, no matter what people are saying about you, you will put yourself in a good position to succeed.