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Bosnian-Born Soccer Player Finds Success in Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Like many Bosnians, Elvir Ibisevic's parents left their ravaged country in the late 90s. With them was two

With them was 2-year-old Elvir, now an 18-year-old man, and the youngest member of the Des Moines Menace Soccer Club.

Elvir grew up in Johnston, Iowa, where he flourished in youth soccer.

"Since I was younger, I started playing when I was 10 for club. I was always playing in an age group up so I`m used to the competition of playing older," said Ibisevic.

At 18, he is playing against men at least two years older, some players being in their mid-20's.  but age doesn't worry the

However, age doesn't worry the soft-spoken forward who surprised even the team's general manager when he came off the bench in last night's open cup match against FC Wichita.

"He`s brought a tremendous amount of composure and creativity to our attack, that`s something we normally look for in veteran players. So to think that the youngest player on our roster can contribute in that manner is certainly something special to keep our eye on for the future," said Menace GM Matt Homonoff.

Elvir, however, is also looking towards the present. After playing for the United States national youth programs, he now has his sights on playing for the Bosnian under-19 team, just a few steps away from joining the national squad.

"It`s just great to play for my country, I mean, I was born there and at home we speak Bosnian. I grew up watching the first team play and all that. So I mean getting to play with the youth team is awesome because I look up to those guys from the first team," said Ibisevic.

To the local Bosnian community, though, he's seen as far more than a soccer player.

"Elvir Ibisevic is truly a success story, he`s the pride of this community, and he`s not just the pride of this community specifically, he`s the pride of this city and this state. He`s seen as a role model," said Elvir Klempic, the board president of the Des Moines Bosniack-American Association.

"This always takes us back to that whole `American dream` concept, that this child that came into the United States and is able to achieve such thing; that you can come to this country with nothing and you can make a name for yourself, and you can do that with hard work and support," he said.

While the Menace feel like the sky is the limit for Elvir, for now, he trains and waits to hear from his home country.

"I haven`t heard back yet, but hopefully sometime during the summer, I`ll receive a call. They have some friendly`s coming up so hopefully I get that call up," said Ibisevic.