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FIFA World Cup countdown: Top 10 Bosnian players of all time

As part of the countdown to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Sports Mole looks at the top 10 players in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In terms of international football, Bosnia and Herzegovina are a novice nation.

Not until 1995 did they play a FIFA-recognised friendly encounter against Albania, while it took a further 12 months for the country to be granted membership by the world game's governing body.

From that point onwards, the team has been on an upward trajectory and after a couple of near misses, they will feature in their first major tournament at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Here, to continue Sports Mole's countdown to the World Cup, we take a look at the top 10 Bosnian players of all time.

10. Elvir Rahimic 2007-present, 40 caps, no goals)

Even at the age of 38, Rahimic is still on the books of one of Russia's most successful ever clubs - CSKA Moscow. Having joined The Horses from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2001, Rahimic has gone on to become one of Bosnia's most decorated players.

Known as 'The Iron Man', among the midfielder's trophy cabinet are four Russian Premier League titles, seven Russian Cups and the UEFA Cup courtesy of CSKA's 3-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in 2005.

He didn't make his international debut until 2007 in a victory over Turkey, but since then, Rahimic has been a key figure for his nation.

Elvir Rahimic of Bosnia attempts to win possession from Portugal winger Nani on November 11, 2011.© Getty Images

9. Meho Kodro (1996-2000, 13 caps, three goals)

It takes a special player to make an impression on Johan Cruyff, but Kodro managed to capture the attention of the fiery Dutchman, who signed him for Barcelona in 1995. He scored nine goals during his debut season in Catalonia, including a brace against Real Madrid.

However, when Cruyff departed the Camp Nou 12 months later, so did Kodro. As well as Barca, the striker scored goals on a regular basis for Real Sociedad, Tenerife and Alaves - making himself a popular figure in Spain.

Unfortunately for him, Bosnia did not gain independence from Yugoslavia until the latter stages of his career, meaning that he was only able to turn out for them on 13 occasions. He was given the chance to coach his country in 2008, but following a fallout with the Federation, he was sacked after a five-month stint.

Meho Kodro attends a press conference after being named the new head coach of Bosnia on January 07, 2008.© Getty Images

8. Asmir Begovic (2009-present, 28 caps, no goals)

Having grown up in both Germany and Canada, Begovic could have quite easily turned out for one of those nations. Indeed, he actually featured for the Canadians at youth level.

However, his switch to Portsmouth in 2005, followed by subsequent loan stints and the move to current club Stoke City captured the attention of the country of his birth, Bosnia. His form between the posts for Stoke has resulted in links with the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool of late.

Since 2012, the 26-year-old has been the undisputed number one goalkeeper in the national side, highlighted by the fact that he was voted the Bosnian Player of the Year in 2013.

Bosnia goalkeeper Asmir Begovic makes a save against Brazil on February 28, 2012.© Getty Images

7. Elvir Bolic (1996-2006, 51 caps, 22 goals)

Manchester United fans will remember Bolic and grimace. When the striker arrived at Old Trafford with his Fenerbahce side in 1996, United had not lost there in a European match in some 40 years. Yet, Bolic's deflected effort beat Peter Schmeichel for the game's only goal, ending that unbeaten run in the process.

It would turn out to be a hectic career for Bolic, who played for 11 clubs in total, although he is best known for his five-year spell with Fenerbahce, who he helped win the Turkish league 18 years ago.

On the international scene, only two players have scored more goals for Bosnia.

6. Vedad Ibisevic (2007-present, 51 caps, 20 goals)

Like Begovic, Ibisevic spent his childhood years in other countries, namely Switzerland and the USA. He opted to play for Bosnia, though, and since his debut he has been a regular fixture among the squad.

His 20-goal haul to date includes a hat-trick during a World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein and a brace against Slovenia.

Where his club career is concerned, the 29-year-old returned to Europe with Paris Saint-Germain, but he struggled to make an impact in the French capital. It's been in Germany where he has made a major impact, scoring goals for Alemannia Aachen, Hoffenheim and Stuttgart.

Vedad Ibisevic celebrates scoring for Bosnia on September 07, 2012.© Getty Images

5. Zvjezdan Misimovic (2004-present, 80 caps, 25 goals)

Misimovic's career has been full of confrontations with teammates and managers, as well as constant jibes about his weight and attitude towards the game. But, when the ball is at his feet, few can question the quality that the attacking midfielder possesses.

He'd make just three appearances for Bayern Munich, before turning out for the likes of Galatasaray and Dynamo Moscow. Rumour has it that upon departing Gala in 2011, he branded head coach and Romanian legend Gheorghe Hagi "a liar".

Currently in China with Guizhou Renhe, the 31-year-old is still a key part of the Bosnian squad. No-one has represented The Dragons more times than Misimovic, while his 25 goals from midfield also make him a firm favourite among supporters.

Zvjezdan Misimovic in action for Bosnia on October 15, 2013.© Getty Images

4. Emir Spahic (2003-present, 72 caps, three goals)

Following his Bosnia debut against Romania in 2003, Spahic has become a crucial part of his country's starting lineup, so much so that he is the captain.

A centre-back of vast experience, Sphaic has played in the Champions League and the Europa League with NK Zagreb, Lokomotiv Moscow, Montpellier, Sevilla and his current club Bayer Leverkusen.

Although not a prolific scorer of goals, the 33-year-old has still weighed in with three for his country, including one in a World Cup qualifying match against Armenia.

Emir Spahic celebrates scoring a header for Bosnia on September 10, 2013.© Getty Images

3. Miralem Pjanic (2008-present, 46 caps, eight goals)

There is every chance that if and when Pjanic leaves his current club Roma, he will fetch the biggest fee ever paid for a Bosnian footballer. The creative midfielder was heavily linked with Manchester United in January, while Barcelona have also been credited with an interest.

Having joined Lyon from Metz in 2008, Pjanic was tipped to take over from Brazilian midfielder Juninho Pernambucano. His first season was blighted by a broken leg, but he recovered to score the goal that sent Lyon through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Real Madrid in 2010 - his finest moment in a Lyon shirt.

Now at Roma, the 24-year-old chose to represent Bosnia, despite having played for Luxembourg at youth level. In the last two years, the playmaker has scored four goals and assisted eight others for his country.

Miralem Pjanic celebrates Bosnia qualifying for the World Cup on September 10, 2013.© Getty Images

2. Hasan Salihamidzic (1996-2006, 43 caps, six goals)

Six Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokals and one Champions League (all won with Bayern Munich) is what Salihamidzic can look back on from his career. Having played in the Bayern side that were dramatically beaten by Man United in 1999, the midfielder scored during the penalty shootout two years later as the German club finally lifted the famous trophy against Valencia.

The Bosnian Player of the Year (twice) was also a part of the Juventus squad that returned to Serie A by winning the Serie B title in 2007. During his time in Turin, he became a fan favourite by scoring twice in a 3-2 win over AC Milan.

In terms of timing, Bosnia were still emerging when Salihamidzic hit his peak years, meaning that although he represented them with distinction, he never got to feature in a major tournament.

Former Bayern Munich midfielder Hasan Salihamidzic in action for Bosnia on October 08, 2005.© Getty Images

1. Edin Dzeko (2007-present, 60 caps, 33 goals)

Averaging just more than a goal every other game, it's little wonder that Dzeko is revered in his homeland. Not just limiting his goals to friendly matches, Dzeko has scored 19 in World Cup qualifiers over the course of two campaigns - including 10 to fire Bosnia to Brazil.

It means that the 28-year-old is his country's leading goalscorer by an eight-goal margin, with that gap only likely to get even larger before his international career ends.

Having scored 85 goals in 142 appearances for Wolfsburg, he joined Manchester City in January 2011, scoring 61 goals in the process. Since then, he has lifted the FA Cup and Premier League trophies, as well as being named the Bosnian Player of the Year three times.

Edin Dzeko celebrates scoring for Bosnia against France on October 11, 2011.© Getty Images

Bosnia and Herzegovina will face Argentina, Iran and Nigeria in this summer's World Cup, and you can follow every single match live with Sports Mole.

Continuing our 50-day countdown to the tournament, we will be looking at the greatest Brazilian players of all time tomorrow.

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