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First team

POTS Top 5: Begovic on Baku, scoring against Boruc & Tom Brady

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Asmir Begovic finished a fantastic season with a second-place finish in the supporters' Player of the Year award poll.

The Bosnian played 47 of the Cherries' 48 Championship matches of the campaign, a standout performer throughout as the side made the play-offs.

This week we've been counting down the top five for the award, including their programme interviews and photoshoots from during the season.

Featuring in MATCHDAY for the memorable 4-2 home win against Reading in November, Begovic looked back on a period of global travel before returning to the club ahead of 20/21.

In the past 12 months, you have played for three different teams in three different countries – what’s that been like from a footballing perspective?

It’s been a different experience. From a footballing point of view, it’s been fantastic.

I went to Qarabag and really enjoyed it there. I played a lot of games and played in the Europa League. I got back in the swing of things and started to enjoy the game again.

To be part of a club like Milan was an honour for me. It was a huge thing in my career. It was nice to come back here.

And from a personal perspective?

From a family point of view, it has been tricky. I spent a lot of time away so didn’t see my wife and kids as much as I would have liked.

They visited as much as they could and I came home as much as I could but not being home every day was a bit tricky.

I have two daughters, one is 11 and the other is three. They have their commitments and schooling.

Baka is a five-hour flight so it would have been difficult to uproot things. Both moves were for a short period of time so I couldn’t move everyone.

From that side of things, it’s very nice to be home again.

Which is your favourite golf course in the world?

I was fortunate enough to play Celtic Manor about four months after the Ryder Cup was held there and really enjoyed it.

I also like The Belfry, Wentworth and Yas Links in Abu Dhabi.

But I would say my favourite is Celtic Manor because of the close proximity to the Ryder Cup. It was a really cool experience.

Which team-mate would you choose to partner in a Ryder Cup fourball?

I’d go with Adam Smith or Mark Travers, two of the better golfers here. Before, it was Charlie Daniels for sure. But I’ll go with Smudge or Travs.

Which golfer would you like to have a lesson from?

At the moment, Dustin Johnson. He’s my favourite golfer and someone I enjoy watching. He hits the ball a mile so I would love to get some secrets out of him.

There are lots of great golfers, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy but, at the moment, it’s Dustin Johnson.

Seeing what happened to Macclesfield must have upset you as you had a loan spell there?

It did. I had a really nice experience there many years ago.

They gave me my first chance in English league football so I only wish the best for them. It was difficult to see them fall on tough times.

It’s good that people are trying to resurrect them now. The likes of Robbie Savage and some good people are involved so, hopefully, they can maintain that.

You share your birthday with Lionel Richie – which of his songs would you perform at Karaoke?

All Night Long.

What’s the best save you have ever made?

I like to let other people judge that kind of stuff.

It was probably against Wayne Rooney for Stoke in 2013/14. We were leading Manchester United 2-1 and were in injury time.

It was a top corner free-kick and I clawed it on to the post. It was game-saving and got us a crucial three points.

You have a link with the goalkeepers at Wessex League New Milton Town, what’s that all about?

That came through Martin Pidgley who came here from time to time and is quite close with our goalkeeping department here.

Neil Moss likes him so I’ve got to know him over the past three or four years.

He’s the goalkeeper coach at New Milton and I help sponsor them. They wear my gloves and everything so it’s just a nice link to help grassroots football.

Did you and Artur Boruc talk much about your goal past him?

We didn’t talk too much about it!

I tried to keep it under wraps as much as I could but then Jimmy Glass brought up his goal for Carlisle and brought up my goal. Artur wasn’t too fazed though.

What was it like sharing digs at Portsmouth with Jason Pearce?

Lively!

There were three of us, him, me and a good friend of his called Phil Cousins. We became really close.

They were a bit more outgoing and energetic than me. I was quite relaxed and chilled.

We got on really well and had an unbelievable digs lady who became my second mother in England. I was really lucky to have that set up.

I was far away from home so it was great to have those guys around. I still call them friends to this day and it was pretty special.

What can you remember about your debut after signing on loan in August 2007, a 0-0 draw at Nottingham Forest?

It was a good draw, a good point. But I think it all went downhill from there for the club and everyone involved.

I remember making a couple of good saves and really enjoyed the experience.

You came in and got the nod ahead of Neil Moss – has he ever mentioned it?

No hard feelings!

I think it was a little frosty at the time but that’s the life of a footballer, that’s professional football for you.

These things happen but we had a pretty good relationship and it was nice to come back here and work with him ten years later.

You have always been someone who fronts up to the media – tell us why?

I’ve followed sports my whole life and taking responsibility for your actions is part and parcel of being a professional.

Talking to the media is part of the game, part of our profession and part of the job.

Whether it’s good or bad things, you talk about it, you front up about it and own your mistakes.

You take responsibility and it’s something I’ve never had a problem with.

Who is the greatest goalkeeper ever?

My idol, my favourite goalkeeper was Oliver Kahn. I’d put him at the top of the list but there’s quite a bit of competition.

I followed him for a number of years and he was an outstanding goalkeeper.

Tell us where you are with your foundation at the moment?

Everything has gone a little quiet. Our fundraiser this year was cancelled due to Covid so we’re hoping we can do it again next year.

Our projects have been put a little on hold. But we’ve been able to get involved in the past 12 months.

We finished a project in Battersea. We helped build a playground and a football play area for a school which was really nice.

We’ve got involved with some grassroots things, like with New Milton and Eastleigh women’s team.

We’re just trying to help whichever way we can, whether it’s grassroots or anything to do with sport.

We help people stay active, fit and positive during what is a difficult time.

Did you ever get the hairdryer treatment from Tony Pulis at Stoke?

For sure, who didn’t!?

He was great for me and made me grow up quickly. He gave me a lot of responsibility and gave me my chance to play in the Premier League.

Tony had high expectations of us and held all his players to the same standard. If you didn’t perform, he would let you know. I really appreciated that honest and direct approach. I took it onboard and it made me mature very quickly.

As much as he can be tough on you, he was great. He was the same the other way round. He was always very positive and complimentary when you deserved it and gave you a lot of confidence to play your game. He was a big part of my career.

If you could swap places with any sportsperson, who would it be and why?

Tom Brady.

I love the NFL and quarter-back is a pretty cool position. He’s had a pretty cool career and a pretty cool life so it would have to be him.

You follow New England Patriots and they aren’t doing too well at the moment?

We can’t win every year!

We’ve had a good 20-year spell so are rebooting at the moment. Hopefully, we’ll be back on top very soon.

What plans have you got after you have hung up your boots?

I don’t have any plans. I think it’s very difficult to predict the time when it’s going to come.

All my focus and energy right now is on playing for as long as I can, making sure I look after myself and making sure I contribute to the team I play for.

I’ll see what comes up at the time and will try to be ready for it.

I’m doing different things business-wise with my glove company, my goalkeeping products, my academies and my foundation.

Hopefully, I’ll have my plate full when I retire but, hopefully, it’s a little while off yet.

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