With the World Cup in Brazil set to kick-off in 100 days, Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has admitted his excitement in representing tournament debutants Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the Mirror.
As the Premier League season approaches the final hurdle and Stoke battle it out for top-tier survival, a summer of rest will be on the back of some players' mind.
But not for Begovic and Bosnia's squad who, after narrowly missing out on World Cup qualification in 2010, have booked their first appearance in a major final since the country gained FIFA acceptance in 1995.
"It means everything," he told Eight by Eight. "It’s actually something that’s difficult to put into words because there’s what it means to you as a player — to achieve that kind of success, to be playing in a major tournament, and because a World Cup in Brazil is obviously huge — but also what it means to the country.
"After all the years of trouble, hurt, and pain, to give some joy and something positive to cheer about is pretty big for us."
Begovic, who moved to England in 2003 when he signed for Portsmouth, is excited at the prospect of facing Lionel Messi's Argentina, along with Iran and Nigeria, and the 26-year-old has admitted that reality has hit home as the days count down.
"We’re definitely feeling a little bit more into the spirit of it now," he added. "It takes a while to sink in — what qualifying for the World Cup means — and it’s still a bit surreal now. But it has sunk in more after the draw.
"We got a great group. There are some great games to look forward to, and we’re very excited to be part of it all."
Bosnia have been drawn in Group F and face Argentina on June 15, before they clash with Nigeria six days later and their final match with Iran is June 25.
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