© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2002
In the after-school special about Asmir Pervan, the first scene would show a short, stocky 15-year-old standing in a Northeast High hallway as fellow students whizzed past. It is Feb. 23, 1999, and Pervan just arrived in St. Petersburg with his father, Sead, from Simmern, Germany.
He spoke little English, knew even less about American culture, and was forced to learn on the run. His fellow students had already spent five months in school and were looking forward to summer vacation. Pervan was just hoping to make it to the next day.
Fast forward to the Northeast soccer field in the fall of 1999. Pervan was talked into trying out for the team by a friend. He was small and out of shape. "I was the new kid and it was hard to fit in," Pervan said. "Somebody told me I should go out for soccer but I didn't know if I should because I didn't speak good English.
"I thought this was going to be really hard because everybody was so big. I was still really small. I grew a lot in a year and I lost a lot of weight. ... Everybody used to call me the fat kid."
Pervan suffered through injuries and didn't play much that year while Northeast went 0-13-1.
Then things started to change. In the classroom, Pervan was starting to fit in, on the soccer field, he forced his way into the starting lineup and began to play well his sophomore season.
Northeast improved to 10-6-1 last season with Pervan providing stability at midfield. This season, as a junior, Pervan leads the team with 33 goals in 19 games.
"Asmir and about six of these other guys have been with us when we didn't win a single game," Northeast coach Tom Blauvelt said. "They're all just ball rats. They love the sport."
The Vikings are the second seed in Class 3A, District 12 and could advance to their first regional tournament. If so, Pervan would be a big reason why.
When Pervan traveled back to Simmern during Christmas to train with a second division club, he noticed differences between American and German soccer.
"We have a much more aggressive attitude over here," Pervan said. "The attitude is awesome here. ... They don't have that as much in Germany."
Pervan plays club soccer for the Largo United, and after high school he would like to go to college and stay in America. "I really like it here," he said. "I don't think I'll go back. I might to play soccer, but I want to stay here."