Paul Cook was one of Fahrudin Kuduzovic's manager while he was at Sligo.  (Credit: Eddie Lennon)

Everything starts with the manager - Fahrudin Kudozovic
Published: September 23, 2017

Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fahrudin Kuduzovic emigrated to England with his family in 1994 and has since forged a footballing career in his adopted homelands of Ireland, Germany and Luxembourg. ‘Faz’ as he’s known to League of Ireland fans, was kind enough to elaborate on his travels with ExtraTime.ie.

 

Within a year of moving to England, the young Bosnian was brought to the attention of local club Leicester City: “I just started primary school in Leicester and the PE teacher saw that I could play better than the other lads. He sent me on a trial with Leicester … I remember my mum taking me on the bus. I was there for one season and got scouted by Derby County when I was in U-12s.”

 

Eight years on the Rams’ books, earning a full-time contract before leaving school, Fahrudin still couldn’t make a breakthrough into the first team: “I had a few seasons with the reserves, but was seen as a luxury, European-style technical player. You could say I wasn’t good enough, but throughout my spell at Derby, I was always one of the best outfield players.”

 

Upon leaving Derbyshire in 2004, Kuduzovic was snapped up by Notts County, staying for just one season following a managerial change: “Gary Mills started bringing me on, but the team wasn’t doing amazing and he got sacked.  The caretaker manager thought I was too young and not strong enough. Looking at it now, it was a bad decision to leave. Not saying I had a poor time in Ireland, but I should have stuck it out.”

 

Next for Faz, a reluctant leap into the unknown, as he tried his luck with a League of Ireland First Division side: “Sean Connor, who’d just taken over Sligo Rovers, knew my agent. I didn’t know much about it and wasn’t keen on going into the second league. I took a chance and luckily, we won the league that year with a good team.”

 

Despite the westerners comfortably consolidating their topflight status for the next two seasons, Kuduzovic had loftier ambitions, culminating in a 2008 midseason switch to reigning Premier Division champions Drogheda United: “Drogheda had good footballers and a style of play. After a couple of good years with Paul Cook, I got the move, but it took six months to happen. I wanted that step: playing with better footballers, being tested more and performing in the Champions League qualifiers.”

 

Drogheda’s aforementioned European exploits still resonate with supporters, but what stands out for one of their most notable participants?

 

“Against Levadia Tallinn, even more than my goal, I remember a great game. They were strong, with European experience, physical and fit players. Dynamo Kiev at Dalymount, I had a fine game, assisted Adam Hughes’ goal, but was disappointed Paul Doolin took me off and then we conceded down my side to go 2-1 down. I had words with Paul the next day, but nothing bad. We had a chance in Kiev to snatch a late winner … Adam Hughes, again. The ball dropped on the penalty spot, open goal and he skied it. I’m a romantic footballer because I always wanted to do beautiful things on nice pitches, in big stadiums and was happy that I got to do that several times.”

 

While the Drogs encountered financial disarray, Fahrudin followed Doolin to Cork City in early 2009, but regardless of another satisfactory footballing season, money troubles reared its ugly head again: “People talk and don’t know what’s going to happen. Football was always more to me than just a wage. I got on with it because I’m optimistic and never allow negativity in my circle. Most footballers are the same and want to train properly and play in peace. When we’re in the moment, we don’t think about administrative issues.”

 

The subsequent year, playing with Dundalk, was Kuduzovic’s most prolific for scoring, but he’s quick to pinpoint the major factor: “Everything starts with the manager. My most successful seasons are my last year with Paul Cook and for Ian Foster at Dundalk. Why so? Those coaches let you express yourself and don’t criticise you in a bad way. If you affect footballers’ confidence, you won’t see their best. Paul Doolin is one of the best managers I’ve had and we still keep in touch, but he would criticise me in training and games. Foster let me play naturally and it was a win-win situation, as I scored goals and created many.”

 

After Dundalk, Faz joined German lower division side SV Eintracht Trier 05 in late 2010, staying until 2014 and on record as saying how much he enjoyed football on the continent: “When I was in England, my dad would say: ‘Let me contact people and organise something for you in Europe.’ I’d tell him that wasn’t how football worked. You have to play well and everything will work out how it’s supposed to, but now I regret that. You have to go for the things that you want and make it happen yourself. At Dundalk, I contacted agents and they got people to come watch me. With my English schooling in football and technical ability, I could have done well in Europe when younger. I came to Germany at 26, had fantastic times with Eintracht Trier, but it’s not the right age to move into the top two divisions. You get off the train a couple of stops too late, but I’ve still had a wonderful career.”

 

In addition to Eintracht Trier, Kuduzovic has also turned out for Luxembourg outfits FC RM Hamm Benfica, US Mondorf-les-Bains and FC Bluesboys Muhlenbach, finding comparisons to our domestic game: “It’s similar and even more part-time with the running of clubs. There’s no full-time teams, with young lads, who have study or school during the day and others work, so training is in the evenings. The quality is even with Ireland, but Irish players are fitter and financially, it’s also on a par.”


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Dan Lucey

Dan Lucey is an interviewer for ExtraTime.ie. He has penned articles for both Cork City and Luton Town’s official programmes.

Dan has written numerous interviews and was a regular attendee at League of Ireland fixtures for many a year. He was previously PRO for The Sextant FC (now East Village FC), for who he produced online match reports, previews, team news and photos.

Despite currently living in Australia and the wrong side of 40, Dan plays competitive football twice a week, while still finding time to pursue potential interviewees.

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