Benjamin Šeško’s Humble Beginnings in Slovenia

Mention the name Benjamin Šeško and the response from football fans, journalists or armchair pundits would be to label the 21-year-old as one of European football’s brightest young talents.


With Arsenal, AC Milan and other top European clubs heavily linked with the RB Leipzig starlet, there will inevitably be articles on the Slovenian’s time with the two Red Bull clubs in Leipzig and Salzburg respectively.


However, though Šeško’s forays in Austria and Germany is important, his teenage years in Slovenia is equally vital to understand how Šeško first embarked on the path to stardom and potentially be one of this summer’s biggest transfers.



Born in the Slovenian town of Radeče, with a population of just 2,000 located between Ljubljana and Zagreb, Šeško would take to football like a duck to water. It’s easy to see why as his father played for the local town’s football team, NK Radeče, as a goalkeeper and Benjamin watched his father’s exploits in the lower leagues of Slovenian football in the stands with his family. Šeško would follow in the footsteps of his father Ales by joining the club at the age of 7.


Jernej Čeh, who was Šešek’s first coach at NK Radeče, explained to Slovenian news show 24UR back in September 2022: “From the beginning, when he joined the club, he showed talent. Of course, there are many talented players in the younger selections, but only a small percentage of football players actually succeed.”


Such was his talent, Šeško was played with kids a few years above him either. Physically, as well as technically, he began to improve as Ceh elaborated further to 24UR:


“Despite the fact that he was a year younger at the beginning, he was at least equal to those a year older, or he even stood out from the majority. He was tall for his age (even now he is tall), fast and resourceful.



Unsurprisingly, Benjamin’s father wanted his son to be a goalkeeper, but the young lad originally wanted to become a centre back. Yet his instincts for goal shone through – always trying to score when the opportunity arose.”


Other clubs in Slovenia began to notice Šeško’s talent in local football tournaments. Being at NK Radeče for five years overall, with a 18-month stay at NK Rudar Trbovlje in between, it was in 2016 when he made the jump to Krsko at the age of 13. Šeško would take his new surroundings as an opportunity to impress and would take it with both hands. Being pushed further forward, the 2016-17 season for Šeško intensified his upward growth – scoring 25 goals in 33 games.


In an interview with The Guardian in October, Šeško revealed who his footballing hero was growing up: “Zlatan Ibrahimovic was my idol. I’m not saying I play like him but he was having fun, enjoying himself on the pitch, doing what he wanted to do. It makes me really happy when I see that kind of player. Every single video I could find, I was looking at him.” 


Šeško also added in another interview with journalists a month earlier: “I just loved to look at him. He was making fun, he was enjoying (himself) on the pitch. He was doing what he wanted to do. And that makes me really happy when I see that kind of player like him.”



Even so, they do share several characteristics, excluding height – their skillfulness, physicality and eye for goal. Just like Ibrahimović, Šeško would grow at the youth level, increasing his goal tally in the 2017-18 season for the club’s U15s- notching an astonishing FIFTY NINE goals in 23 games.


Such a predator instinct would be rewarded with a call-up at youth level for Slovenia at the U15 level where he would continue his strike rate of 4 goals in 4 games. It also got the attention of Domžale – an established Slovenian top-flight side when compared to lower league clubs Krsko and Radeče.


Moving to Domžale in 2018 was a step up for the now 15-year-old Šeško – further away from his comfort zone and at a far higher level. Some teenagers can falter when finding themselves away from their home, their careers unfortunately stunting when put in an unfamiliar situation or playing at a higher level – no longer a big fish in a small pond.


However, with the support of a good family structure behind him, Šeško would exceed all expectations by scoring 24 goals in 28 games in the 2018-19 season. Just like a fellow Slovenian, basketball star Luka Dončić, Šeško went from strength to strength irrespective of the situation he was put in – whether playing amongst his age group or those older than him. Coincidentally, Šeško is a massive basketball fan, a sport he would play as a youngster once finishing football training.



Turning 16, it was in the summer of 2019 that Šeško entered unchartered territory when Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg signed the youngster. This was a new stage for Šeško – a new country and a new culture to engrain himself into at such a young age. One that he has passed with flying colours.


In the space of five years since moving to Austria, he has lifted himself into one of Europe’s promising young players and is now playing at the highest level. 


It hasn’t come as a surprise that many compare Šeško to Erling Haaland – comparisons such as these always happen in football. Sometimes these comparisons can weigh heavily on a player, but Šeško deftly swatted away such comparisons:


“I already said that I’m my own player. The only thing that we have kind of similar is, of course, height. And also, we’re both fast, but in general we have a different style of playing.”



One thing is for sure – Šeško will be Slovenia’s main hope in the European Championships and has every chance of rising to the occasion of his first international tournament.


Should he move to Arsenal on the back of a strong performance in the Euros – as in recent days the Gunners have been heavily linked with Šeško – he will be a massive gain for the Premier League.


Nevertheless, the people of Radeče where Benjamin Šeško first played football as a child are rightly proud of him.


By: Yousef Teclab / @TeclabYousef

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Neil Baynes – FC Red Bull Salzburg