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Hoffenheim's Ibisevic Lets His Goals Do the Talking

Hoffenheim striker Vedad Ibisevic added two goals to his Budesliga-leading tally of 13 when his team routed Karlsruhe last weekend, but he still hasn't erupted with any of the brazen boasts common to other goal scorers.

Vedad Ibisevic

Where others have fallen, Vedad Ibisevic has soared in this year's Bundesliga campaign

The Bosnian striker -- fluent in English, German and French -- was on hand to act as German translator for his teammates Demba Ba and Chinedu Obasi in an interview with the pay-TV channel Premiere.

It seems Ibisevic, the Bundesliga's leading scorer, is happy to let the goals do all the talking.

Even Germany's legendary Gerd Mueller might have to start worrying that his record of 40 goals in a season could be under threat. The former Bayern Munich and Germany striker had only six goals at the same stage in the 1971-72 season.

"At the moment everything is going well for me," says Ibisevic, who has five goals more than the next players on the list, Artur Wichniarek of Arminia Bielefeld and Patrick Helmes of Bayer Leverkusen.

Ups and downs

Frankfurt's Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Vedad Ibisevic while still at Aachen

Ibisevic managed to stay in the country's top flight when Aachen were relegated

It hasn't always been that way for the 24-year-old, who, according to Hoffenheim general manager Jan Schindelmeiser, has "had to work hard for everything" and can be proud of his achievements.

At the age of 16, Ibisevic's family left Bosnia and Herzegovina for a new life in Switzerland, but unable to obtain a permit to stay sought better fortunes in the United States.

The youngster's performances on the college fields soon attracted the attention of scouts, leading to a contract with French club Paris St. Germain. After only a year he was on his way to Dijon, and then in May 2006 found himself heading for Germany and Alemannia Aachen.

Strong in the air, the forward managed six goals in 24 games at Aachen, and former coach Guido Buchwald did his best to retain the player when Hoffenheim made an approach after Aachen were relegated from the top flight.

But Ibisevic had an option in his contract allowing him to leave, and Hoffenheim were prepared to pay around 1 million euros ($1.28 million) for the striker, much to Buchwald's chagrin.

"He was a central player," Buchwald said. "Hoffenheim signed him up while claiming they have a youth concept. That annoys me."

Slow, friendly start

Hoffenheim's Demba Ba

Ibisevic lent a hand to Senegalese Demba Ba when he arrived at Hoffenheim

Initially, the going didn't go so smoothly at Hoffenheim. He was quickly confronted with two new rivals for a place in the forward line when the club signed the Nigerian Obasi and the Senegalese Ba.

Yet despite these men posing a direct threat to his success, Ibisevic went out of his way to help the two Africans settle into the side.

"When Demba came he didn't speak any German so I helped him with French and we have become really good friends," he said.

Hoffenheim's Schindelmeiser praised Ibisevic's dedication to helping his teammates.

"The way he behaved was great," Schindelmeiser said. "It's something I really appreciate."

Window of hope

Although the goals now come fast and many for Ibisevic, he hardly set the second division alight last season. He scored just five goals in Hoffenheim's jump into the first division and prior to this season was by no means a certain starter.

But with Obasi absent from the team while on Olympic duty for Nigeria, Ibisevic was given a crack up front.

Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick admits to being surprised at the player's development since then.

Obasi celebrates a goal with Ibisevic

Ibisevic has maintained a degree of modesty about his successes

"If Chinedu had been available I'm not sure Vedad would have got this chance," he said.

Down to earth

But the Bosnian doesn't seem to have gotten carried away by his current goal scoring success.

He said having grown up while a civil war was raging in his homeland puts this type of achievement into perspective.

"It makes you stronger and more grown up, " he said. "You learn that there are more important things in life than soccer."

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