Getting to know. . . Adnan Maric
17th January 2016
As part of our new Swans Academy content, we speak to an upcoming talent within the youth ranks at the club.
Next in our in-depth interview is under-21s midfielder Adnan Maric, who talks about histransfer from Sweden to Swansea, adapting to a new life in SA1 and training with stars he used to watch on TV.
Moving to a foreign country to further a career can be a difficult journey for anyone in any industry and at any time of life. For a teenager leaving his homeland to pursue a path in the cut-throat world of football, it can be even more daunting.
Adnan Maric was that said teenager. Before his 18th birthday, the Swedish-born - but Bosnian blooded - midfielder said goodbye to his friends and family in Sweden in an effort to further his career in South Wales.
It was a switch that would help him move a step closer to fulfilling a dream of playing in the Barclays Premier League. But dreams don't always come easy.
"People think it is easy to just move to a new country and continue as a footballer," says Maric. "But, in truth, it is very hard.
"You leave your old life behind - your friends, family, the places you grew up - and you start again, all for the sake of football and your career.
"The hardest part for me was moving here and not having my family around me. It can be a bit lonely at first, but as long as I am doing what I love, it helps balance it out.
"I had to grow up faster, which has helped me a lot with my football because I have matured quickly and have learned how to handle certain situations.
"When you love something so much, you do have to make sacrifices, and if it meant having to leave my old life behind then that is what I had to do."
Fortune favours the brave. A month after Maric had signed with the Swans, a familiar face arrived in SA1 with similar ties to Sweden.
Gambian-born Modou Barrow spent the majority of his childhood in Sweden, playing for a number of clubs in the Scandinavian country before moving to the Swans from Ostersunds FK in the summer of 2014.
"When he showed up at Landore, I could not believe it," adds Maric. "We had played in the same league in Sweden.
"Because of our Swedish links, we have helped each other out to settle in at the club and have become good friends.
"Even though Mo now features and trains more with the first-team, we still hang out and do things together off the pitch.
"It is nice to have someone you know here. He is a very good friend to me and a big talent at the club."
Smiling and polite in conversation off the field, Maric carries a very different persona when battling for Swans Under-21s at the heart of midfield.
Since signing for the club in August 2014, the talented midfielder has impressed with his all-action performances.
"It has been a good year for me," smiles Maric. "I have learned a lot since I arrived here.
"There have been some tough periods, but I am happy to be playing for a Premier League club and I am feeling positive about how my time has gone here so far."
Maric began his football journey with Gothenburg-based side Gunnilse IS before moving to Swedish second tier side GAIS in 2013, for whom he made his first-team debut at the tender age of 16.
"I was getting good game time with GAIS and made my debut in the Swedish league at a young age," he explains. "It was very different playing against men - a lot tougher and a quicker pace of game.
"That year playing for GAIS in the Superettan did me good. It helped me develop as a player, and I learned very quickly how to handle things both mentally and physically.
"My time in Sweden helped prepare me for my move to Swansea, but when I arrived and started playing for the Under-18s, I found that the pace of the game was much quicker than some of the lower leagues in Sweden."
Over the course of the past year, Maric has graduated as a scholar and has made the step up to the Under-21s' development squad this season.
He has been an instrumental in this season's squad, but it is clear that his ambitions go beyond that.
"I feel I have grown as a player since taking the step up because the quality of football is much higher," says Maric.
"As a team, we are doing well in category one this season and I am grateful to be a part of that.
"But ever since I arrived here, my main goal is to work hard, keep developing and one day play for the first team.
"A few years ago, I was in Sweden watching some of these players on TV and now I am training with them on the same pitch.
"The past 18 months or so has gone so quickly, and I never would have expected to be training with the first team so soon after arriving at Swansea.
"I am always trying to develop and be as good as I can be but the opportunity to train with them is unreal at times. I look forward to seeing what the next 18 months has to offer."