Miralem Pjanic, a midfielder from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Barcelona, said he had turned down the opportunity to represent France at the international level.
The Blaugrana midfielder, who transferred from Juventus in the summer transfer window to Camp Nou, was born in Tuzla, in what was then Yugoslavia, shortly after the start of the Bosnian War, before his family moved to Luxembourg.
During his formative years, Pjanic joined Luxembourg’s national youth teams and signed at 14 for Metz, eventually turning out for Lyon. And it was while playing in Ligue 1 that the then head coach of France, Raymond Domenech, telephoned him about the possibility of making himself available for Les Bleus.
“Yeah, when I arrived in Lyon, I might have played for the French team, but I said a few days before that my dream was Bosnia,” Pjanic, 30, told Canal Plus.
Domenech called me, but I had made up my mind already. Naturally, I thanked him, but I preferred to be rational.
“It was too much [to break into] for me, the France team, at that time. And it would have hurt my heart if Bosnia, on the other hand, watched one of its playing for the France team.”
Pjanic is currently preparing for the international friendly match between Bosnia and Herzegovina against Iran before the matches against the Netherlands and Italy in the Nations League.
To date, the former Juve star has racked up 96 caps for his country, scoring 15 goals, but still has to appear in a major international tournament.
After coming on as a substitute during Barcelona’s 5-2 win over Real Betis at Camp Nou on Saturday, the seasoned playmaker will be fresh for Bosnia Herzegovina’s clash with Iran.
At the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign, the cameo appearance marked his seventh outing for the Blaugrana, but he has yet to lock down a regular place in Ronald Koeman’s starting XI.
The next opportunity for Pjanic to make an impact could come when Barca takes a trip to Wanda Metropolitano on November 21 to face Atletico Madrid.