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Miralem Sulejmani
Miralem-Sulejmani.jpg
Personal information
Full name Miralem Sulejmani
Date of birth 5 December 1988 (1988-12-05) (age 21)
Place of birth Belgrade, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Winger, Forward
Club information
Current club Ajax
Number 10
Youth career
2001-2003 BSK Batajnica
2003-2005 Partizan
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005–2006 Partizan 1 (0)
2006–2008 Heerenveen 34 (15)
2008– Ajax 41 (10)
National team
2007– Serbia U-21 16 (6)
2008– Serbia 6 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:15, 30 September 2009 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 20:35, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Miralem Sulejmani (Serbian Cyrillic: Миралем Сулејмани, born 5 December 1988 in Belgrade) is a Serbian footballer of Gorani descent, who plays for Dutch club AFC Ajax as a striker or winger. He received his first senior cap for the Serbian national team on 6 February 2008[1].

Contents

Early career

Miralem's first club was local club BSK Batajnica, before he moved to the youth squads of Partizan Belgrade. He made his first appearance for the Serbian club in the 2005-06 season. Quickly, Sulejmani was branded as the next great talent from Serbia, and interest quickly followed from especially Dutch clubs like AZ Alkmaar, FC Groningen and SC Heerenveen. On December 6, 2006, one day after Miralem's birthday, it was announced that Heerenveen has signed the young Serbian striker, who would move to the Eredivisie-side in January. [2]

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Controversial move

However, his decision to move to Heerenveen was controversial, several arguments occurred between Heerenveen and Miralem's agent, not agreeing of the payments for the costs of the youth academy for Sulejmani. Eventually, FK Partizan after a meeting with the Football Association of Serbia suspended Sulejmani until 11 May 2007 keeping him out for the rest of the season. Heerenveen appealed to the FIFA and although the original verdict claimed that Sulejmani should not be suspended, a second look at the case was made and Sulejmani was suspended again. He made his debut for the youth squad at 13 May 2007 in a 3-0 win against Heracles Almelo, in which he gave 1 assist.

Later on, Miralem - or Miki - claimed that the restriction made by the FIFA was the best thing what could happen to him, as he claimed that it encouraged him to train as much as possible to be ready for his debut.

Heerenveen

Finally, in the 2007-08 season, Miralem Sulejmani was able to make his debut on 17 August 2007 against Willem II Tilburg. Despite putting in a good performance, the match ended in a goalless draw.

His second appearance came against Ajax. Sulejmani went on to score his first goal for Heerenveen as the Serbian put Heerenveen 1-0 ahead at the Amsterdam ArenA. However, they went on to lose the game 4-1, ending a streak of three away wins against Ajax. Heerenveen's poor start to the season continued, but one of the few limelights of the team was Sulejmani, showing some outstanding displays on the wing. In the first half of the season, Sulejmani proved himself to be a worthy replacement during Afonso Alves' absence and scored 4 goals and produced 5 assists, including the assist for the winning goal against reigning champions PSV Eindhoven. Heerenveen regained themselves and as the squad grew, and so did Sulejmani.

After Alves' departure to Middlesbrough FC, it was up to Sulejmani to lead Heerenveen's attack, in which he succeeded. His fine play even led to the (temporary) departure of 13-time Polish international, Radosław Matusiak. Sulejmani quickly turned into a dangerous attacker full of creativity, always finding a way to get past defenders. Heerenveen even became championship contenders for a brief period, thanks to some superb attacking play. At the end of the season, Sulejmani became the club's shared topscorer with 15 goals in 34 appearances, playing in all Eredivisie-matches and provided 10 assists for his team-mates. He also won the prize of the Talent of the Year-award, as a prize, he decided to donate an artificial turf-football field in his hometown.[3]

Heerenveen finished fifth in the Eredivisie, earning them a spot in the playoffs for the qualifying round for the Champions League against second ranked club Ajax. Usually, the number 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Eredivisie are ensured of at least UEFA Cup-football, but thanks to the fact that Feyenoord, who finished 6th in the league, won the KNVB-Beker, the loser of the playoffs will wind up playing the Intertoto Cup. Sulejmani will not participate in the playoffs, because of an injury to the meniscus, which will sideline him for the rest of the season. Heerenveen lost the first round to Ajax 5-2 on aggregate and went on to face NAC Breda, who finished 3rd in the league, in the losers-round for the final ticket for the UEFA Cup.

The impressive debut season of Sulejmani did not remain unnoticed. Towards of the end of his first season at Heerenveen, reports came of interest of Feyenoord, AFC Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and even Chelsea F.C..[4]

Ajax

Sulejmani taking a free kick for Ajax

After weeks of speculation, the transfer-soap of Sulejmani finally ended on 4 July 2008 when AFC Ajax announced on the official website that Heerenveen and Ajax have reached an agreement of the transfer of Miralem. Ajax will pay 16.25 million euros to Heerenveen, breaking the Dutch transfer-record, with the previous record also having been for a transfer between the two Eredivisie-clubs for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.[5]

In Amsterdam, Sulejmani signed a 5-year contract with Ajax, keeping him there until 30 June 2013. Sulejmani claimed in an interview that he himself didn't even know that Ajax paid over 16 million euros for his services. [6] Miralem said, I am a footballer and I only want to think about football. He made his debut for Ajax in the test match against Sunderland on 03-08-2008.

He has recently been subject to interest from several English clubs including Everton, Fulham and Birmingham City.

From his first start for Ajax in the Eredivisie Sulejmani an immediate impact player, scoring in his debut against Willem II which Ajax eventually lost 2-1. In February 2010, he scored a solo goal against Juventus in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 tie. He ran nearly the entire length of the pitch, outrunning the Juventus defenders to score the opening goal of the match but Ajax were eliminated from the competition, losing 2-1 on aggregate.

International career

Sulejmani was named in Zvonko Živković's 18-man squad for the 2007 UEFA European U-19 Championship and was given the number 10 shirt.

On 7 September 2008 Sulejmani converted 2 penalties for Serbia in their 8-0 demolition of Hungary's under-21 side in a qualifying match for the European Under-21 Championship. [7]

Sulejmani made his international debut for the senior national team on 6 February 2008 in a friendly match in Skopje against Macedonia.

References

External links


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