Football

Barcelona midfielder Pjanic turned down France opportunity

Bosnia-Herzegovina and Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic turned down the chance to represent France's national team after a call from Raymond Domenech.

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Barcelona midfielder Pjanic turned down France opportunity

Miralem Pjanic has claimed he was offered the chance to represent France but it would have broken his heart to turn his back on Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Barcelona midfielder was born in Tuzla, in what was then Yugoslavia, before his family moved to Luxembourg shortly after the outbreak of the Bosnian War.

Pjanic represented Luxembourg's national youth teams during his formative years and signed for Metz at 14, later turning out for Lyon.

And it was while he was playing in Ligue 1 that he was telephoned by then France head coach Raymond Domenech about the prospect of declaring himself available for Les Bleus.

Yes, I could have played for the France team when I arrived in Lyon, but I said a few days before that my dream was Bosnia," Pjanic, 30, told Canal Plus.

"Domenech called me, but I had already made up my mind. I thanked him of course, but I preferred to be realistic.

"For me, the France team, it was too much [to break into] at that time. And it would have hurt my heart if, on the other side, Bosnia was watching one of its own playing for the France team."

Pjanic, who joined Barca from Juventus in June, is currently preparing for Bosnia-Herzegovina's international friendly against Iran before Nations League matches against Netherlands and Italy.