Croatian talent Nikica Jelavic helped Rangers secure their last domestic title – but where is he now?
The former Gers striker, who made the £4 million switch under Walter Smith, was the club’s most expensive signing since Mikel Arteta from Barcelona and completed the club’s transfer window consisting of James Beattie and Vladimir Weiss (as per BBC Sport). How times have changed.
Big signings are always popular when they are first introduced; they embody hope and ambition and give fans that well-needed refreshing boost at the beginning of the season. Nikica Jelavic was no different. He had scored an impressive 21 goals the season before, including three against bitter rivals Celtic in the Europa League – a sure-fire way of boosting your profile around the Ibrox.
After he forced through his move from Austria, the Croatian enjoyed a very illustrious period in Scotland. His goalscoring talents laid waste to the unsuspecting drivel that stood before him, picking apart the best Scotland and Europe had to offer piece by piece and helping himself to 36 goals in 56 appearances.
Indeed, his stunning overhead kick against Aberdeen at Pittodrie will certainly live long in the memory.
After winning what was Rangers last Premiership title, Jelavic set his sights on England and joined David Moyes’ Everton side in 2012.
The big Croatian was sensational when he first joined, netting 11 times in 13 starts – and sinking Manchester United’s title hopes (birthing what was one of the greatest moments in Premier League history).
However, as great as this all was, his career had effectively peaked. A relatively impressive six goals in 15 starts would follow in the 2012/13 season before he went 17 appearances scoring only a solitary goal against…Cheltenham Town.
There was no retrieving his career in England. Another poor season under Roberto Martinez was shortly followed by botched stints at Hull City and West Ham before he someone struck gold (literally) and moved out to China to join League One outfit Beijing Renhe.
Naturally, a player of his quality enjoyed the easy pickings of the Chinese second tier, scoring 15 times in 29 games.
Having built up a profile in up-and-coming Asian football, Jelavic finally made his dream move to the Chinese Super League to join Guizhou Hengfeng. No doubt on some ridiculously inflated contract.
And this is where he rests.
From Scotland to China in less than 10 years.
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