Posted: 10/18/2013
Title: WIZARDS OF THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

Blog:                                                                                                                         

       Safet 'Pape' Susic is not a name that may spring to mind to most of you, but to me he is, and was, a wizard of the beautiful game.

       Today he is celebrating as his native Bosnia is getting ready for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next June as the coach that has taken them there.  To me the 58 year old former attacking midfielder was a delightful wizard to watch at The Parc des Princes in Paris where he played from 1982 until 1991 in 343 matches and scored 96 goals and was never injured or suspended, following 9 years at FK Sarajevo in the Yugoslav League.

        Before Bosnia gained its independence he represented Yugoslavia 54 times and scored 21 goals, including three hat tricks vs Romania, Italy and Argentina.. I used to go to watch him in Ligue 1 in Paris a few times in the 1980's having a friend in the FFF- French federation and his play was sublime and joyful.. In 2010 he was voted Paris Saint-Germain's best player of all time and two years later the best foreign player in Ligue 1 by France Football. I could not agree more.

        After winning in Lithuania earlier in the week he and the sqaud had an open bus tour from Sarajevo's airport to the city centre down what was Sniper Alley before the Dayton Peace Accord of 14th December 1995, that put an end to almost 4 years of tragic conflicts. He had coached Cannes and then five Turkish clubs, and this summer was his fourth year with his native land. In June Bosnia reached their highest ever FIFA ranking of 13th place. Gerd Mueller, a contemporary player, considers Pape one of the top 40 players of all time.

        Less newsworthy perhaps was the match at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels where Wales got a late 1-1 draw with group leader Belgium. With three minutes left coach Chris Coleman brought on 16 year and 207 days old Harry Wilson. That was 108 days younger than when Gareth Bale made his debut. Thirteen years ago his granddad walked into a betting shop in Wrexham and placed a 50 bet at 2,500/1 that his grandson would one day play for Wales at football.

 
        If you have ever been to Wrexham you will notice that the main shopping strret is littered with bookies, pound shops and pay day lenders, so it wasn't hard to do.  Peter Edwards went back on Wednesday to collect his winnings of 125,000. Pete, who will now retire a year early, has not forgotten Harry. Too young at 16 to get any champagne, his grandad is willing to buy him a Happy Meal at McDonalds at 30 Regent Street in Wrexham. I have actually been there myself. 1.95 for a burger and fries - with a coupon!  England manager Roy Hodgson was also happy with his one million pound bonus for qualifying for Brazil.

       Three minutes after the substitution a Welsh legend, Craig Bellamy walked off the pitch and retired from international football at age 34 and 78 caps. His son Ellis is also 16 and last year played for Wales U16s' and is on the books of Cardiff City. For Harry it is back to the Liverpool FC Academy, with no Premier League action on the immediate horizon.

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