NORWELL – When Mischa Spasic ventured to the US from Sweden as a 10-year-old, he did not speak a word of English.
But for Spasic, football was a language he was already familiar with.
The five-foot-long 11-year-old midfielder and captain of the Norwell High Boys football team grew up playing the sport in his home country, learning the intricacies of the game and making it part of his identity. Football helped with the transition to living in a new country, which gave Spasic the opportunity to make new friends and learn a language that is no longer foreign to him.
It also gave Spasic the chance to showcase his dazzling array of skills he first cultivated abroad, which has now been fully demonstrated during a sensational career with the Clippers.
“Because I started playing at such a young age, I got used to how the ball touches all the different ways,” said Spasic. “I’ve just always been a part of it so it’s always been so natural and that’s all I think about all day. I feel like growing up in a culture where everyone plays football, it comes naturally. ”
Spasic’s early childhood took place in rural Sweden before moving to Massachusetts because of his father’s work. Back in Europe, where football is treated more like a religion than just a sport, is where Spasic’s enormous passion for the game was formed.
He rarely missed a chance to get out and play, even if it meant kicking the ball on a hard surface that was not a perfect football pitch.
“We had a long break, like an hour, and everyone was playing football,” said Spasic. “We did not have grass. It was just like the sidewalk. After the break, we come in with bruises and stuff and scratches on the knees and legs. ”
As Spasic got older, his ability caught the eye of Norwell coach Jack Brown. Browne hoped that Spasic, along with some of his classmates, would not go the private way. To Brown’s delight, Spasic joined the Clippers and began as a rookie for Norwell, a high-achieving performance for a prestigious end-of-part playoff game in Part 3.
Spasic quickly gave the Clippers a steady presence in midfield with his all-round talent as he earned South Shore League All-Star awards during his first high school season.
It was just the beginning for Spasic, whose skilled game-making, fantastic decision-making and goal-scoring ability elevated him to one of the state’s elite players when he was a sophomore.
He led Norwell to an unbeaten regular season that year while compiling a well-balanced eight goals and seven assists. For his efforts he received the Eastern Mass. Soccer Coaches Association All-State honors.
“He can create opportunities for himself. He can create opportunities for others. Doesn’t really matter who he creates that opportunity for, says Browne. “He is very selfless, which is unusual. When you are so good, they tend to hang on to the ball and try to do too much. But no, he makes the right pass at the right time. ”
Spasic continued with a similar campaign last year as a junior, albeit for a shorter season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spasic once again received EMSCA All-State recognition and was named the SSL Sullivan Division’s Most Valuable Player.
These awards, along with his talented play, make him a well-marked man now by opposing defense. Despite the extra attention, it has not been a roadblock for Spasic or Norwell. The Clippers have an undefeated start to 7-0-1 this season and surpass their opponents by 36-2 margins.
“You feel proud that I put in so much work, spent hours working several times a day after school and it just feels like everything pays off in the end,” says Spasic about the success. “So it just keeps me motivated and works hard.”
Spasic’s work ethic is something Browne never questions. During the low season, Spasic works diligently with its craft by spending the entire summer in Europe either to play for an academy team in Sweden, which has two players in Sweden’s national team, or at training camp in Serbia.
Spasic, who has not trained abroad since 2019 due to the pandemic, said he “improved massively” by playing against the older and stronger competition in Europe. Browne agrees and thinks it’s almost impossible to find any faults in Spasic’s game.
“The commitment just amazes me,” Browne said. “He plays all year round. … There is no weakness in his game. He’s just a real student in the game. Just love the game. Never gets tired of playing. ”
With Norwell’s offense flowing through Spasic in the middle, he routinely breaks down opponent defenders with his fine footwork while having a fantastic vision of finding open teammates who advance in the attacking third.
He does all this with a certain Swedish style, but for him that style is more demonstrated by the controlled and thoughtful way of attacking the opposition instead of relying on brutal force.
– The football aspect in Sweden is a little more tactical, says Spasic. “You think a lot about the game and watch a lot of movies and you really try to get the game in your head as well as with your feet and become really technical. So I think when I came here it really helped me because here most people are very physically strong. They are strong, they are fast but do not think much about the game. So I think it helped me. Even if I’m not the fastest or strongest, I’m always one step ahead because I can read certain situations. ”
For Spasic, whose two younger sisters Smilla and Olga play for Norwell’s girls varsity football team, he has not forgotten where his football roots are planted. And when he wears the Clippers uniform, he sees it as a chance to also honor his Swedish nationality.
“It’s a lot of pride,” Spasic said. “You are proud of your country. Of course I love this but I’m from Sweden in the end. Before each game I listen to Swedish music. That’s kind of my tradition. If I listen to it before the match, I know I will have a good game. ”
Spasic’s growth in the game during his time at Norwell does not only come with his skills in the field. After being a less outspoken underclassman, Spasic has developed into a valuable and respected leader, as his captain shows.
“He was a little quiet his first couple of years, which I understand,” Browne said. “Now he is training his teammates lately. Much more singing. Tell them where to go, when to run, do not. Always in a positive way. I know no one who does it like him. ”
Spasic is unsure of his next destination on a football trip that has taken him all over the world. He has received some interest from colleges in the United States, but decides whether to go to school in Europe and play either semi-professional or professional football would be a better option for him.
Spasic still has time to make a decision as he focuses on getting Norwell back to a state final, which would only cement an already well-established legacy.
“He’s probably the best fielder we’ve ever had in the program,” Browne said. “He’s just so complete.”