His upbringing was interrupted by the war in the Balkans. “I was six when the war started. It was terrible. My house was destroyed so we went to live with my grandparents. The whole family was there, maybe 15 people all staying in an apartment. It was very hard. We were stressed every day in case somebody we knew died. A lot of footballers began kick-arounds in the street but for me that was impossible. But when the war finished I was much stronger, mentally.”
Seen as too tall and clumsy to succeed as a midfielder with Zelježničar, Džeko was nicknamed ‘Kloc’ – the local slang for a lamp-post or the pole that holds up a road sign.
Magath signed him for Wolfsburg without seeing him in the flesh; scout analysis and video highlights had convinced him that Džeko was the right man.
Džeko’s footballing intelligence extends to languages; he is fluent in Czech, German, English and Italian as well as his native tongue.
His ties to his homeland remain strong; he has a Bosnian wife, model Amra Silajdžić, whom he married on 31 March 2014. The couple have a daughter, Una, and a son, Dani. Una received her dad’s match ball following the first of his two UEFA Europa League hat-tricks in 2016/17. He said: “When I scored my first hat-trick against Viktoria Plzeň, I took the match ball home and Una immediately took it and didn’t want to let go; she played with it all day. I then dedicated the second hat-trick [against Villarreal] to her.”
While at Wolfsburg, he said AC Milan was his “dream club”, adding: “At some point in my career, I want to play there.” His boyhood hero was Andriy Shevchenko.