Edin Dzeko still scoring at Roma but does he get the credit he deserves?
It was some miss. Edin Dzeko sauntered up to the spot and blazed the ball – the word has to be blazed – high over the bar. The video was doing the rounds on social media almost before Udinese goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis had located the ball to take the goal-kick.
The gist was that this weekend woe was vintage Dzeko. Just the latest squandered chance to add to his rap sheet. Something to rival the barely believable misses against Palermo and Atalanta last season that saw the Roma forward dubbed Edin Cieco – Edin the Blind.
What the critics do not dwell on are the goals. There have been 21 of them for club and country this season. Now 30 years old, Dzeko is third on the Serie A scorers list and has won over the Roma fans with key goals in a series of major wins.
He helped turn the game as a substitute against Sampdoria in September. There was the opener against Inter in October and the two goals against Napoli. He has scored a Europa League hat-trick and also got the winner against Chievo last time out at the Stadio Olimpico.
“The fans in the stadium always treated him with respect,” said his agent Silvano Martina recently. “It’s different on social media. There was a moment of difficulty but he reacted in a strong way … There are few certainties in life but one of them is Dzeko.”
Agent hyperbole? Of course. But there is something about Dzeko’s game that guarantees goals. For all the misses, it is the volume of chances that come his way that is the key to his success. Indeed, he is the only man in Europe’s major leagues to have 100 shots this season.
So while the conversion rate might be unremarkable, Dzeko remains well placed to get more opportunities than the rest. Sound technique, good mobility and the aerial prowess that comes with his 6’4” frame makes for an effective combination.
And his record stands up to scrutiny. Dzeko has now hit 137 league goals during his time in Germany, Italy and England, winning the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg and the Premier League with Manchester City. Twice. But does he get the credit he deserves?
Consider the list of Premier League players with the best strike rates. It is no surprise to see Sergio Aguero and Thierry Henry leading the way. The top 10 is littered with legends. But there is Dzeko, just ahead of Alan Shearer with a goal every 142 minutes.
The only foreign imports with a better record are Aguero, Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie. That is the company he keeps, according to the stats, but his reputation languishes behind the reality of his goal record.
Even his biggest moments have been overshadowed. Sergio Aguero was the hero of all heroes for City that 2012 day against QPR, but as Joleon Lescott pointed out in a recent Sky Sports interview, it took Dzeko’s headed equaliser moments earlier to make it all possible.
It feels somehow fitting that this is often edited from the highlights. Two years on and Dzeko was the third-choice striker for City going into their next Premier League title-winning campaign. He still scored 16 goals, stepping up when he was needed most.
In fact, Dzeko scored five goals in the final four games of the season to see City over the line – as many as Alvaro Negredo managed in the entire Premier League campaign. Luis Suarez’s goals for Liverpool got him the player of the year award. Dzeko’s took City to the title.
It was left to Jose Mourinho, of all people, to talk up the Bosnian’s role in it all. “If I have to choose, I choose Dzeko,” said Mourinho of his player of the year pick. “When the team needed him in crucial moments of the season, I think he made the difference.”
Three years on and Dzeko is still making a difference at Roma. He may be called upon for their Coppa Italia tie against Sampdoria on Thursday. As ever, a big miss would not be the biggest shock. But neither would a goal. That’s Edin Dzeko. Much mocked. But still scoring.