Cast your mind backs to 2015 - that was when a 13-year-old Amar Dedic was taking the brave step from Graz to the U15 team at the Red Bull Football Academy! It has been eight years since in which league and cups have been claimed and UEFA Champions League history written as Amar has developed into one of the key pillars of our Red Bulls.
The 21-year-old's footballing development will remain a fond time for the 21-year-old.
We were young and wild, and we all loved football.
"It was crazy! We were young and wild with the same love of football in the boarding school. It was a really fun time. The five years in the academy were among the best in my life. They were just crazy and such a laugh.
I am proud to have played for the academy. We had so many great matches, were always competing for things, and we achieved some incredible successes."
It wasn't all an uphill stroll, however. In order to make the breakthrough in the academy, young Amar had to work hard every day and get over the odd setback.
You can't play well in every single game and please every single coach.
"Things don't always go upwards in life, and I had plenty of difficult times. You have to keep at it. You can't play well in every single game and please every single coach. When you come to a team as a young new player and don't play so much to begin with, you have to show patience.
I had to go on a year on loan to WAC before I got the chance here. I had a great time in Wolfsberg too, but after six years in Salzburg, it was all very new to begin with."
His personal motivating factor was always his love for football and enjoyment at doing special things with a ball. Amar can remember the magic of that from his childhood.
"It definitely wasn't quiet, it was energetic! You could see in Kindergarten and primary school that sitting around wasn't my thing at all. I always wanted to go out, and loved kicking a ball more than anything. Football has always been my thing. It is what I like doing the best, and it is just so much fun."
The love of the game is something that is in Amar's blood. One way or the other, football was always the biggest topic in the Dedic family.
"My brothers, who are ten years older than me, always played a lot of football, and I always wanted to emulate them, of course. I went to training for the first time when I was five or six. I played as a striker for a long time, and I just really enjoyed scoring goals. It was the best feeling."
Amar is technically strong and has continually proved his nose for goal. How then did he become the defensive all-rounder that he is today? Amar grins as he says …
"You have to ask the coach that suddenly selected me in defence one day. I had to help out as full-back in the U15 of the Red Bull Academy, and I did a really good job. I kept on being picked in this position, until I became a regular - and I enjoy it too, of course!"
With his versatile playing style, the question has to be asked what stars Amar used to or these days emulates as footballing inspiration.
I watched a lot of Lionel Messi videos as a child.
"If I am being honest, I didn't really have any idols or role models. I watched a lot of Lionel Messi videos as a child. In Bosnia, where I have my origins, Edin Dzeko is huge also, of course."
Amar's background is a very important topic for him. Our persistent defender (who played more minutes than any other outfield player so far this season) was born in the Salzburg area, but his parents come from Bosnia, and most of his family still lives in the Balkan nation. His first call-up to the Bosnian national team in March 2022 remains one of the big highlights of his career to date.
"It is something very special for me. As a small child I followed all our players, and now I play for the same team - it is a really special feeling. It's a fanatical country for football, with sport playing a big role in life and giving a lot of joy to people there.
When I think about it and consider that I already have played in the Champions League, I have to pinch myself. I think it is only when you play yourself in this competition that you understand just how big it is."
Last year in our match against AC Milan there were so many Salzburg fans who travelled there that I am still amazed.
Anyone who watches our matches closely will often see Bosnian flags in the crowd, especially when Amar takes time after the final whistle for all his fans and signs autograph after autograph. Are they all members of his extended family, perhaps?
"No, my family don't come into the stadium with flags. They are just fans who like me. No matter if we are playing in Salzburg or Vienna – there are fans with Bosnian flags at almost every match, and I am really pleased to see that and get their support. Last year in our match against AC Milan there were so many Salzburg fans who travelled there that I am still amazed!"
Amar likes to thank the fans for their support in no better way than with good performances on the pitch, where he is renowned as a leader despite his young age. He wants to put everything into the final matches of the year now so that he can start his well-deserved holiday afterwards on a high.
I want to play my part in the team getting the best out of it, no matter how.
"We have so many young players, and so many different characters and nationalities, but we all get on really well. I want to play my part in the team getting the best out of it, no matter how. We want to give our all in the final two matches of the year so that we go into the break as league leaders and stay in Europe. It was an extremely demanding autumn. We barely had any time off, as there were always midweek fixtures or international matches. It is difficult, not only physically but mentally. That's part of our job though."
Amar has a very precise idea already of how he would like to spend his free time in the winter break. The energetic youngster wants to use the break to relax.
"It's important to use free time to clear my head as well as possible. After the last matches of the year, I will be going to visit relatives in Bosnia with my family, for example. I'll get out of the city and into a little village, and we'll do some stuff together or have a walk in the forest. Anything to get me out of everyday life."
Day in the Life with Amar Dedic
After his morning routine with training and media assignments - we accompanied Amar on a typical day of his life as a footballer. You can see the results in our latest Day in the Life video with him.