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War child Jelavic played lots of football


The Bosnian War meant Nikica Jelavic grew up playing football instead of going to school, and that might be why he's such a natural goalscorer:

“I was six when the war started and this might sound strange, and people might find it difficult to understand, but it was the best time of my life. I swear,” he said.

“There were no rules. I would wake in the morning, leave the house and then I would spend the day playing football in the fields and swimming in the river.

“My father was on the frontline and my mother was at home, so I had a kind of freedom that a lot of children do not get. It was different for us because the normal rules had broken down because of the war and that meant we didn't have to go to school.

“I remember that I always played with boys who were older than me. It was more of a challenge, but I was still the best player. It was a great time for me and for my generation. I was too young to realise just how serious the situation was.

“It is always a good discussion with my dad, but the war is one thing he doesn't talk too much about. It is too difficult for him.

“If you compare me with someone like Phil Neville, he is always focused even days before a game but I never think about things.

“That's just the way I am. I never think about how many touches I take to score a goal or how I score a goal, I don't have those kind of thought processes.

“If I have the ball when I see the goal then I will shoot. Why complicate it?

“I am the player in the box most of the time and to me this means that usually one touch is enough because I am already so close to the goal. It is natural for me. Maybe if I started to think about what I do then I would stop being able to do it because it wouldn't be natural anymore.”

“We are a strong team,” he said. “I have heard all about the success that Everton enjoyed in the mid-Eighties and what a great team they had back then. I can't promise that we are ready to get back to those levels just yet but I do believe we are strong enough to play Champions League.

“We have already beaten Manchester United this season, and last season we beat Manchester City, so we have shown that we can play and also that we can compete.

“I have had two bad experiences playing against Liverpool in this country, but I did beat them in a pre-season friendly when I was with Rapid Vienna.

“Obviously, it is a big derby and it is a big game for everyone and I want to beat Liverpool with Everton. If I see the goal, then I will shoot."

Quotes or other material sourced from Daily Express

Reader Comments

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Russell Buckley
318 Posted 26/10/2012 at 06:53:50
Its been said before but some players just have the instinct in front of goal. Good to get some back story from the man himself. Its obvious when watching him that while he has loads of skill he is essentially on auto pilot in front of goal.

So happy to have this lad in the team now. In the space of a year he has changed Everton.

Phil Sammon
319 Posted 26/10/2012 at 07:28:55
I've often thought he looks like a Bond villain.

It's great to have a player like Jelavić at Everton. We've been starved of goals scorers for years now.

A brace on Sunday please Jelly man

David Stewart
325 Posted 26/10/2012 at 08:36:54
'If I have the ball when I see the goal then I will shoot. Why complicate it?' — Spoken like a true goalscorer!

I've always believed that football's quite a simple game that's been complicated for no apparent reason. Just look at when any team makes a substitution: 20 minutes of frantic paper writing and diagrams — no wonder they look confused.

Nope, your naturals don't need all that bullshit — just get them on and they'll know what to do. I bet no-one ever told Georgie Best what to do... he'd have just given them the Homer Simpson stare...

So let's hope we keep it simple on Sunday — no need to complicate things and a victory is guaranteed.
Dennis Stevens
332 Posted 26/10/2012 at 09:40:09
Just reading a book about Tommy Lawton where he relates how as a youngster he also used to play with older players & how he felt it help him to develop into a better & stronger player himself. I just hope we can hang onto Jelavic for a while bedore the inevitable cash-in occurs.
Phil Sammon
349 Posted 26/10/2012 at 12:05:34
FFS Dennis. What's wrong with some people?!
Martin Tilly
350 Posted 26/10/2012 at 12:05:58
I was at the QPR game near the front row and it was the first time I've seen Jelly up close. I never realised what a big strong bastard he is! Doesn't really come across on the TV.

And he acted just like a kid in warm-up, wanting to have shots at TH the whole time. I already love the man but a couple on Sunday and he's set for life.
Andy Meighan
351 Posted 26/10/2012 at 12:11:45
Let's hope he goes to war on Sunday against that filth. Give him the service and he'll net because — as the saying goes — the iceman cometh and the iceman delivers.
Victor Chang
352 Posted 26/10/2012 at 12:16:26
Way to put a downer on what "was" a warm read Dennis.
Nick Entwistle
354 Posted 26/10/2012 at 12:24:12
Q: What are your strengths?

A: I score lots of goals.

This guy is fantastic.

Mark Lennon
359 Posted 26/10/2012 at 12:49:02
I can't wait for 'the eagle' to spread his wings in front of the Park End on Sunday after netting against the shite.

This lad is something we have lacked for years. I really think he is the answer!
Dennis Stevens
383 Posted 26/10/2012 at 15:11:19
Phil & Victor - ignore me & carry on looking forward to Jelavic's testimonial, no doubt we'll never sell!
Victor Chang
386 Posted 26/10/2012 at 15:50:09
I'm not in denial Dennis, it's just... can we enjoy it for a bit whilst he's happy here, then stress about it when the time comes? being a blue you need to savour the good times, cause you don't know how long its gonna be before the next one comes along.
Suresh Gill
395 Posted 26/10/2012 at 16:16:20
"If I have the ball when I see the goal then I will shoot. Why complicate it?"

Gotta love this guy, can't be more straightforward!

Steven Astley
396 Posted 26/10/2012 at 16:30:10
Has anyone ordered a shirt with Jelavić's name on the back of it?

The latest shambles of the Everton marketing dept is that they are unable to print special characters, in other words, the accent over the ć in his name.

Funny then, that the shirt that he wears himself has the accent — so the kit man at the club can obviously print it... but Everton Marketing/Kitbag can't...

I know it's petty, but if you are paying £12 for a name and number then it should really be right.

Nick Entwistle
404 Posted 26/10/2012 at 17:09:31
Not sure who Jelavic would go to. Utd have their striker force, Chelsea have theirs. City too are all set. Spurs, Newcastle, Arsenal also. And I doubt he'd go abroad as he's only wanted to play in the Premiership. This Jelavic transfer fear only came about during the deep naval gazing that happened post Wembley.
Dennis Stevens
411 Posted 26/10/2012 at 17:27:08
I'm not at all stressed, Victor. If Jelavic continues in the way he's started then it's inevitable offers will come in for him sooner or later. Indeed, the club's business model seems rather dependant upon the sale of players on a regular basis, hopefully for top dollar. Thank goodness Moyes generally makes good use of the funds he gets his hands on.

This knowledge certainly doesn't impair my appreciation of Jelavic's talent, I enjoy his performances greatly. Being a blue is always a privilege and, no matter how bad things may get, I still pity those who weren't chosen.
Peter Jones
439 Posted 26/10/2012 at 20:05:44
Exactly Nick. And he's 27. Everybody chill. He isn't going anywhere.

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