A Q&A with Seattle Sounders draft pick Emir Alihodzi

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COURTESY OF UNO ATHLETICS
COURTESY OF UNO ATHLETICS

Gabriel Christensen
CONTRIBUTOR

It’s not everyday that someone can say they’ve made history. But for Emir Alihodzic, it’s not about the glory—but the experience overall.

Alihodzic is the first-ever University of Nebraska at Omaha soccer player in the program’s existence to be drafted by the MLS.

“I wasn’t really surprised to find out he had been drafted,” said Fazlo Alihodzic, cousin of Emir and current UNO soccer player. “He is one of the best college midfielders around and the Seattle Sounders are one of the best teams in the MLS with top players—it’s great that he got a chance to prove that he can play with some of the top players in the U.S.”

Fazlo fondly remembers growing up with his cousin.

“We started playing soccer for the same club team—we always pictured ourselves playing together in college and the pros one day, and it just so happened that Omaha was our place to play together,” Fazlo Alihodzic said. “Hopefully I can join him in the MLS in the future.”

The Seattle Sounders drafted Emir Alihodzic on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Since then, Alihodzic’s life has been a world-wind of emotions and adventures.

Q&A with Emir

Gabriel: How does it feel to know that you’re making history here at UNO by becoming the first drafted soccer player in the school’s program thus far?

Emir: It feels great because it just shows how much I’ve worked and how much my team has believed in me. And it just opens up doors for UNO with recruiting. People can see that players are getting drafted out of there and it could be them next time.

Gabriel: So you’re currently in Seattle right now. When does training start and what exactly does that entail?

Emir: It starts today pretty much — I get my physical and all my gear. Tomorrow the real practice starts. After Seattle we go to Phoenix for 10 days. Then after that we come back to Seattle. Then go to Los Angeles and we practice there until our first game.

Gabriel: You aren’t originally from Omaha. Why did you choose UNO?

Emir: I was born in Bosnia and moved to the U.S. in 2002 when I was a 9-year-old. I chose UNO because I felt the most comfortable there — the coach was very nice and it just felt like a family when I came to visit. Everyone’s always talking and laughing. Also, UNO has nice facilities and a nice field as well.

Gabriel: That’s great that you’ve really felt at home here at UNO. What’s your major?

Emir: I’m majoring in Communications — Organizational Leadership in Communications. I have nine credits left until I graduate. I plan to take those credits this summer because I’m so busy right now.

Gabriel: So it’s obvious that you remain super busy with soccer and schoolwork, but how do you spend your spare time when you’re not hitting the books or out on the field?

Emir: I hang out at the dorms, play FIFA with my roommates. We like to play basketball sometimes too. We don’t really go out much, just hang out.

Gabriel: What are some of the biggest struggles, in your opinion, that student athletes face?

Emir: Time management. I say that because of all the schoolwork that you have to make up because of traveling. It takes a long time to get caught up.

Gabriel: But it’s all worth it, right? What do you love about the game? Why do you play?

Emir: I just feel like I zone everything out when I play soccer. And it’s a team game — it’s not all about you. You’ve got to work with other people and not everybody can do that. It’s one of my favorite games.

Gabriel: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Emir: I see myself still playing soccer and just enjoying life.

Gabriel: Any last thoughts?

Emir: I’m so grateful to my coaches. They’ve made me who I am. I wish them the best with the program and their future. I’ll be supporting and watching.

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