Senior Ajdin Turnadzic prepares to play professional soccer in Dubai

Senior+Ajdin+Turnadzic+poses+for+a+photo+at+the+Scott+Gallagher+Soccer+Complex+after+training+for+five+hours.

Talha Dizdarevic

Senior Ajdin Turnadzic poses for a photo at the Scott Gallagher Soccer Complex after training for five hours.

As soon as senior Ajdin Turnadzic accepted the phone call, he knew his life was about to change dramatically. He could hear his cousins and family in the next room and immediately walked inside, pulling the phone away from his ear. His family watched confusedly as Turnadzic put the phone call on speaker, the caller’s voice now gaining their attention. Everyone went silent. 

That day in November of 2020, Turnadzic got a call from Fursan Hispania FC, a soccer club in Dubai, informing him that he was accepted onto a professional soccer team. He was also offered a spot on a professional team in Bosnia, his home country. Although he still needs to officially accept, Turnadzic plans to move to Dubai in the summer after attending a national soccer trial. 

“I was so happy. I knew from when I was young that I would make it. It’s always been my dream, but when it happened, I was just in tears,” Turnadzic said. “I just had a quick flash of all the moments in my life, all the super depressing moments. And then I just knew that this is why I gotta put that all behind me.”

Turnadzic first started playing soccer at four years old. His father was a professional soccer player and encouraged him to try the sport. He immediately fell in love with the sport and knew at the age of 11 that he would eventually play professionally. 

“I knew I wanted to keep playing as soon as I kicked the ball when I was four. I saw my dad do something really cool, and I just never doubted it,” Turnadzic said. “I was just like, ‘wow, he can do that.’ I can do more, and I always wanted to be better.”

Although Turnadzic was not planning on playing soccer throughout high school, his friends and family encouraged him to continue the sport.

For me, when I play, I just forget about everything. I forget everyone. There’s been so many experiences I’ve had in my life involving soccer, so many things. So I just feel like it puts me together. I feel like it’s glue to me.”

— senior Ajdin Turnadzic

“I actually do remember my first game. I remember my dad at the sideline yelling at me, you know, wanting me to score, and I remember scoring that game. It was a proud moment for him,” Turnadzic said. “My sister helped me quite a lot. She always drove me to practices and my mom as well. I never had anyone support me that much in my life.”

Turnadzic’s family has been very encouraging throughout high school, attending his soccer games. His favorite memory from playing soccer involves the only game that his whole family attended together.

“I remember that game. I just had something in me. I remember getting on the ball, and I just remember looking up at the goal one quick second,” Turnadzic said. “I scored, and I had a penalty and scored that. Then we had a corner kick, and my dad’s like, ‘this is your last minute. Do something. This is literally your last game.’ And it was just set up perfectly. I did a bicycle kick. So I basically laid flat out on my back, and I kicked the ball with my leg. I scored, and I remember just screaming and going to my parents. They were in tears, and we were just laughing.”

Senior Ajdin Turnadzic breaks in his brand new cleats on the soccer field. The cleats, which are the same ones his father wore before he played professionally, attracted Turnadzic with their simplicity and sentimental value. “[My father] showed me all the photos of him, what he used to play,” Turnadzic said. “I remember watching videos of Zinedine Zidane and all these professional players that were really top class. They all wore those simple cleats. I really liked them and I decided to buy a pair because my dad wore them as well.”

In addition to inspiration from his father, teammates and coaches, Turnadzic also looks up to soccer legends like Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He inspires me because of his work and where he came from. He came from nothing, from sweeping streets to the best soccer player in the world. I can relate to that a lot. Quite a lot,” Turnadzic said. “My past influenced me a lot by just remembering coming from nothing. All the hard times, those cursing moments, those bad moments, how they could all just easily become one really good thing. My mom and dad came here from [the Bosnian War]. They had absolutely nothing, but God gave us so much more than we expected, and I’m just blessed and thankful.” 

After graduating high school and moving to Dubai, Turnadzic is not planning on pursuing higher education. His mother, however, would like him to attend a few years of community college, so he plans on studying something related to fitness. As a long-term goal, Turnadzic wants to become a physical trainer or physical therapist, especially if he gets injured on the field. 

“I’m scared [of] a huge injury,” Turnadzic said. “It would put me through a depression moment, and I’d have to recover. I’ve been injured before, and I’ve thought, ‘this is career-ending.’ I blew my calf muscle during the trial, and I remember just thinking, ‘I’ve never felt this kind of pain in my life.’”

However, becoming a physical therapist or trainer is not the final destination for Turnadzic. In five years, he sees himself playing for a national team, hoping to gain knowledge from experienced players such as Ronaldo.

“I see myself on a national team. I see myself being happy with the family, just how I always was,” Turnadzic said.

Senior Ajdin Turnadzic prepares to kick the ball. (Talha Dizdarevic)

Before every game, Turnadzic analyzes the best players on the other team and their possible weaknesses. He uses their weaknesses against them, changing his game accordingly to benefit himself. Despite the strategy and quick thinking required during a game, soccer helps Turnadzic relieve stress. 

“For me, when I play, I just forget about everything. I forget everyone. I don’t think about anything like that. There’s been so many experiences I’ve had in my life involving soccer, so many things. So I just feel like it puts me together. I feel like it’s glue to me. If [I’m] ever falling apart, it’s there to put me back together,” Turnadzic said.

In addition to soccer, Turnadzic is very passionate about his Islamic faith, believing that his success wouldn’t be possible without God. After moving to the United Arab Emirates, Turnadzic hopes that he will get more support from the Muslim population. 

“Without Him, I don’t think any of this would be possible,” Turnadzic said. “Without God, I think I’m nothing. Every day, I wake up, and I’m just so thankful that I have eyes that work. I have fingers that move. I’m so, so thankful and so happy that this has happened.”

Turnadzic’s little brother has taken a liking to the sport as well, and Turnadzic can see his brother becoming a professional athlete. Turnadzic wants to be a role model for him if he makes that decision but will always support him regardless.

“Oh, my little brother. He’s so smart. He really is so smart. He’s super funny, and he’s always happy. He likes playing games and stuff, but when [he] sees me doing something, he’d ask, ‘can I do it with you?’ I could see him being a really good athlete as well. I just want to see if I can get him to do it,” Turnadzic said.

Turnadzic wishes to change his mindset about the game as well as his attitude towards opposing players as he moves on to play professional soccer.

“I want to have the mindset of the soccer player who I always followed when I was younger. He was a team player. He’s always been smiling, always really happy. I want to have that mindset,” Turnadzic said. “I don’t want to just be an aggressive, rude person. There’s so many things you could do in that sport that are so eye-opening and so useful to you. I want to completely change my mindset on the game. I just want to have it as my love. I just want to be so attached to it to the point where I don’t even have to think about what I have to do next.”