Many will be surprised to hear that Milan Baros, hero of Istanbul (sort of), is still playing football.
There are few players in the game that have immortalised themselves in the mind of football fans in the same manner as former Liverpool man for no apparent reason. Yes, he was a decent enough player, and, yes, he achieved some bits and bobs with the club, featuring “that” night in Istanbul, for example – but his club career in general was pretty uneventful. So why do we find him lodged in our consciousness?
Gerard Houllier signed the Czech Republic under-21 international in 2001 from Banik Ostrava (The Guardian), a fresh, unknown talent with the world in front of him – not that this resonated with Liverpool fans particularly well. Houllier’s preference for four strikers inevitably meant the arrival of the youngster would push one of the already established strikers out of the team, either Michael Owen, Emile Heskey, Jari Litmanen or Robbie Fowler. Choosing between a line-up like that is like trying to decide whether to lose an arm or a leg. In this case: a leg. Fowler made way.
We think it is fair to say that Baros’ style was a little erratic. Head down and run was just about what it boiled down to for Liverpool’s very own Forrest Gump, who could be found speeding around the pitch scoring the occasional goal and doing the odd trick. This is all secondary material though, worthless in the eyes of many, in fact – for the real reason Baros is remembered lies within his Champions League heroics. Indeed, no man will be more iconic for dodging a shot than Milan Baros, whose quick reactions allowed Vladimir Smicer to find the back of the net. Not to mention the pass which assisted Gerrard’s penalty run into the box.
Just months later and after scoring 27 goals in 108 games in all competitions for Liverpool, he departed for Aston Villa, a decision he later regretted, he told This is Anfield. “It seemed an easy decision at the time, but if I could go back to that moment now, I would choose to stay,” he said. “There are a lot of games in a season and I’d have got my chance again. Now I know it was a bad decision. I wish I had stayed and been patient.”
Just two years later Baros found himself embarking on a European crusade; first landing in France, where he played for Lyon for a year; then back to England for Portsmouth, who were pretty much in the market for anything that moved at this point. Turkey and Galatasaray were next, before he returned to his former side Banik Ostrava. Like a hot Czech potato, however, he was moved on again after just a few months with the club back to the Super Lig with Antalyaspor. He spent three more years dancing between different Fortuna Liga outfits before finally settling at the club where it all started.
The 37-year-old has claimed six goals in 16 league games so far this season which really is not a bad haul.
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