Torn cruciate ligament; corona; a dislocated shoulder – VfB Stuttgart striker Saša Kalajdžić doesn’t seem to be able to throw anything off course. The portrait of a standing man.

Since March 2018; Saša Kalajdžić has been absent from the football field for 686 days due to minor and very serious injuries or a SARS-COV2 infection. That’s almost two years. And yet he has become one of the key players at VfB Stuttgart.

When I first met Saša Kalajdžić; he stumbled on crutches in a garden tavern near his parents’ apartment in Vienna. I told him on the phone about the idea of ​​accompanying his work for the comeback with the camera after his third serious injury. However long it takes. It’s early August 2019; a lovely summer evening; and here we are in Vienna’s Kaisermühlen district on the edge of the Danube Park; talking about the project and it soon becomes clear: we’re going to make it. My first impression at the time: a 22-year-old sits there and knows exactly what he’s doing. He is positive; open; honest and down to earth. This impression has not changed to this day.

Kalajdžić: “Just keep going”

Of course; the shock is deep after this disaster at the friendly against SC Freiburg: A normal duel with Nico Schlotterbeck on the halfway line. Has happened a thousand times before. However; the consequences were fatal. A total loss in the knee. Cruciate ligament tear; inner tube torn; meniscus damaged. A horror scenario for a football player. He sits on the mat in the rehabilitation center; his left knee still in a splint; and talks about it. The lump in the throat is clearly audible.

VfB-Stuttgart-Sturmer Sasa Kalajdzic (Photo: imago images, imago)

VfB Stuttgart striker Saša Kalajdžić tore his cruciate ligament in the training match against SC Freiburg in June 2019


“The shock was really brutal because you knew something was wrong with your body; but talking about it now doesn’t do much either. Just keep going.”

And how he continues. Kalajdžić really gives everything. Ending your career at the age of 22 is not an option. Ulrich Boenisch; the well-known knee specialist who operated on him; says: “If someone can do it; Saša will do it.”

Kalajdžić relies on his family

Not far from his parents’ apartment; on crutches; visiting his old club; SV Donau – meeting friends. I notice how deeply rooted Kalajdžić is in his homeland. Later; in his favorite cafe; he tells about his sister; his four-year younger brother Daniel; who also kicks (now at the Grazer AK) and was injured at the time. And three hours later; when we sit on the bench at the edge of a lake; he talks about his father and how influential he was for his sporting development.

His family is an extremely important support during the heavy work in rehab. That is why VfB let him work on his comeback during the first days in Vienna. But the parents don’t want to go out. He reveals that school education was also important to them. Kalajdžić graduated from a technical high school.

Kalajdžić is a regular guest in the rehabilitation world of VfB Stuttgart

Back in Stuttgart; he becomes a regular guest in the VfB rehabilitation world. The trainers and physiotherapists are enthusiastic about his positive character and his professional ambition – and the Sachertorte; which he always brings and hands out after visiting his homeland.

VfB team doctor Raymond Best is also full of praise. In the months that followed; everything went according to plan. Ulrich Boenisch; however; has the last word. We’re going to Augsburg at his clinic. The knee specialist makes a final picture. The stress test and the result of the MRI examination: absolutely satisfactory. In April 2020; Kalajdžić’s grin will be even wider than usual and he will be allowed to hit the grass with a ball for the first time.

The first game against HSV; the first goal against Nuremberg

And then it goes on with the ICE speed. The first game against HSV at the end of May 2020; the first goal against Nuremberg at the end of June. The climb. And then comes the 2020/21 season. Saša Kalajdžić becomes the celebrated striker of VfB Stuttgart: 16 Bundesliga goals and one in the cup make it more and more valuable. The fans love him for his kindness and an open way in the interviews and for other clubs the two meter stroke becomes very interesting. According to; the market value has increased from €2.5 million to an incredible 22 million.

VfB Stuttgart striker Saša Kalajdžić (Photo: imago images, Sportfoto Rudel)

Saša Kalajdžić scored his first competitive goal for VfB Stuttgart at 1. FC Nürnberg on June 21; 2020.

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Saying goodbye to Stuttgart is only a matter of time

Leipzig; Mailland; Tottenham; Chelsea – they would all have stretched their feelers to Kalajdžić. Saying goodbye to Stuttgart seems only a matter of time. As always; he handles the situation openly and honestly. At the training camp in Kitzbühel he says: “If there’s something that really impresses me; I do it. But there were no offers.” I’m relaxed. I text him and ask with a smiling emoji if he has me I already found an apartment in London His reply smiley sticks out his tongue.

New season; new setback – Kalajdžić: “It will be fine”

In the meantime; he is also a fixed value in the Austrian national team. Against Italy; he heads a spectacular goal in the round of 16 to 1:2 in extra time. However; he cannot prevent the EM-Aus.

VfB-Stuttgart-Sturmer Sasa Kalajdzic (Photo: imago images, imago)

Just across the field and from a sharp angle; VfB Stuttgart striker Saša Kalajdžić Austria headed into extra time in the quarter-finals of the Euro 2021.


Then comes the new season and that doesn’t count. The corona virus has got him. In the second game of the season against Leipzig he comes on in the 73rd minute and almost with the last action the next period of suffering begins. The shoulder dislocated after a relatively harmless aerial duel. He’s been out for months. I’m sending him a text and once again wishing you a speedy recovery. His answer: thank you. It’ll be fine. We agreed that this would be his last injury.

VfB-Stuttgart-Sturmer Sasa Kalajdzic (Photo: imago images, imago)

VfB Stuttgart striker Saša Kalajdžić dislocated his shoulder in the 4-0 defeat at RB Leipzig.


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