I was the new Lionel Messi at Barcelona, joined Stoke and now have shock new career
Winning it all with Barcelona, before gracing the Premier League with Stoke, Bojan Krkic is now embarking on a new shock career.
Scoring 900 goals for Barca’s youth teams, the 32-year-old was once dubbed the ‘new Messi’, opened up on his football career and life afterwards.
Having won LaLiga four times between 2008-11, the Champions League twice, he also got his hands on the Eredivisie title with Ajax.
Later joining Stoke, he helped the Potters to ninth-placed finishes on three successive seasons, and was recently released by Vissel Kobe in December.
Though it was breaking the record set by Lionel Messi, as the youngest player at Barcelona to make his first-team debut at the time, the Catalan forward will never forget.
“When you achieve these kind of things it is important,” a laid-back Bojan tells talkSPORT, whilst smiling on the sofa.
“I was 17 years old when I made my debut for the Barcelona first-team, my focus was just to enjoy training and the games.
“It was a dream sharing a dressing room with [Lionel] Messi, not only him, but with Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Moyes makes stunning Rice admission, Klopp talks Liverpool transfer plans, Rashford blow
Klopp dismisses theory about Champions League football and summer transfer plans
West Ham on brink of Europa Conference League final after howler from ex-Arsenal loanee
Arsenal handed double injury blow as star defenders ruled out for rest of season
Newcastle assistant Jason Tindall goes viral for his hilarious ‘attention-seeking’ antics
Chelsea owners deliver rare piece of good news to fans amid horror season
“They are my idols, I am watching them in the stands and then a couple of months later I am on the pitch with them – an incredible moment for me.”
Bojan, like many young players came under huge pressure, having been likened to Messi, one football’s all time greats.
“I heard people mentioning ‘the new Messi’ or ‘new Ronaldinho’, but it is not a pressure that a young player needs.
“I took me a lot to understand this pressure from outside, these type of messages.
“All the players helped me, but Henry, Iniesta, and Samuel Eto’o were really close to me, and I thank them.”
Bojan then smiles when asked about Stoke, calling it his ‘second home.’
“I got a call [from Stoke], and then I decided in that summer, and it was the best option, I felt I wanted to be part of a new club and start a new chapter.
“My focus was to play in the Premier League, and I appreciate all the weeks, training. The atmosphere, no matter home or away, it is unique, it is the best place to be as a player.
“I received a lot of love from fans and staff from the first day, it is my second home. It is a small, but family club, and most of all they are fantastic people!
“I have to thank Mark [Hughes] for giving me the opportunity, I always felt his confidence, we had great memories.
A wet and windy night in Stoke is music to Bojan’s ears, he laughs, adding: “Fantastic! You have to adapt quickly, I love to play with rain, I don’t like the wind, but you get used to it.
“I was so happy playing at the Britannia Stadium in front of the Stoke fans, so the weather did not really bother me.”
He then recalls his most difficult opponent and favourite opposing ground during his days in England.
“I faced many good players, and played with one of the best in my career in Marko Arnautovic.
“Most difficult opponent, though, it has got to be N’golo Kante when we played against Leicester City, he was really tough.
“I would have to say Anfield as the toughest place, it was the one place you go, and I would look around and see the atmosphere, and hear You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Bojan has since hung up his boots, and is now involved in a new sport back in his homeland, gravel cycling, and company called GUAVA, based on the outskirts of Barcelona.
“I am not a cyclist, I enjoy going with the bike. When I was younger I used to go in the mountains.
“I bought a bike a few years ago for all surfaces, I can go on the road, and in the mountains due to the suspension.
“The company started a few months ago, and it is fantastic for me to be apart of it. I can also discover different parts of Spain and meet new people. A fantastic way to enjoy a good sports life.
“Gravel, for the body is nice, there is no impact, it is a challenge with yourself, to do more miles.”
Bojan, though, aims to be back in the game, sooner rather than later, having done qualifications to become a sporting director.
“In July, I will start a coaching course. I am young I want to learn, be prepared.
“I am preparing myself, I like to see the quality of players, build a team, see the things what happens in the training ground, when you lose and win also.”