Begovic chose Bosnia for 'football' reasons

Asmir Begovic admitted his choice to represent Bosnia-Herzegovina ahead of Canada was 'ultimately a football decision'.

The Stoke goalkeeper will represent Bosnia at Brazil 2014 next month, after the Balkan country qualified for their first FIFA World Cup late last year, but could have played for Canada instead, having effectively grown up there.

The Begovic family fled Yugoslavia when he was four as the nation was torn apart by war but although the young Asmir spent his formative years in both Germany and Canada, he claims he never lost a connection to Bosnia.

Begovic is a citizen of Canada, but with the North American nation having traditionally struggled in the much weaker CONCACAF confederation, Begovic told The Guardian on Thursday that he was tempted to represent Bosnia due to their UEFA membership.

"Playing for Bosnia allows you to play in much more competitive games," the 26-year-old said.

"You are in Europe rather than in the CONCACAF region, and that's where the heartbeat of football is. You play European qualifiers, tougher friendlies, and you don't travel quite so much.

"It was the best decision from all points of view and I think it has worked out pretty well."

Despite that, Begovic maintained it was 'quite a difficult decision' for him to choose the country of his birth over the nation he grew up in.

"I spent a very important part of my childhood in Canada, between the age of 10 and 16 is when you are growing up," the goalkeeper said.

"I got used to the life there, made a lot of friends, got citizenship there and began to represent the national teams at youth level, but Bosnia was always in the back of my mind as well.

"You never know whether the opportunity is going to arise, and when it came up, because I hadn't been capped by Canada and it was still up to me to make a decision, I discussed it with my family and decided to accept the offer.

"Family played a big part, my parents are in Germany but a lot of my family live in Bosnia, most of my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.

"I feel I am representing them and I am happy they can share this whole experience through me. That was a big motivation. I don't have any firm memories of my own time in the country, I was too young when we left, but I have been back quite a lot.

"The connection was strong, and I did involve my family, but ultimately it was a football decision."

Bosnia face a tough maiden World Cup appearance as they will take on Argentina in their first match in Rio de Janeiro on June 15, before playing their other Group F opponents - Nigeria and Iran - on June 21 and 25 respectively.