Former Everton striker Nikica Jelavic has opened up about the highs and lows of his career with both coming during his time at Goodison Park.
The Croatian spent his childhood in war torn Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s, his father turned agent even fought on the frontline during the Bosnian war.
As a teenager, he impressed enough to be brought on by Hajduk Split before taking in more sights across Europe with spells at Zulte and Rapid Viienna but it was his move to Scotland with Rangers were he began to really make a name for himself.
He scored 30 goals in 45 appearances for the Scottish side, winning the title and league cup during his spell there.
Jelavic admits it was a bittersweet moment to leave but Everton came in with a serious offer and were able to provide on his lofty ambitions to play in the Premier League.
“I was very sad to leave but… you have to follow your ambition,” says Jelavic.
The striker would find a different intensity in England, where he discovered he had to do more than ever to win matches.
“You have to fight more and run more,”
“With Rangers, you knew you could beat a side 3-0, so didn’t need to do extra jobs.”
The passion of David Moyes, also helped convince him to switch to Merseyside.
“Honestly, I like this man so much,” says Jelavic.
“You could see his passion for not only football but for Everton. He really loved being in charge of this club. His training was intense, to be hones But this is his style. And we were flying, playing good, running like crazy.”
It seemed like a match made in heaven when Jelavic put on the Everton shirt. He just couldn’t stop scoring and he didn’t even have to do as much as he thought to find the net.
He bagged the winner against Tottenham on his home debut, recorded 11 goals from 13 starts and not only that, but out of 15 goals scored between March and October 2012, Jelavic netted them with just a single touch of the ball.
Speaking to evertonfc.com, he said: “The first eight months with Everton was the best period of my career.
“After that goal against Tottenham, everything seemed so easy. It was amazing, whenever I shot, it was in.
“I was so relaxed and confident. I was like, ‘I don’t care who I play against, they have to care about me’.”
But any player, whether they find themselves in a hot streak or a rough patch, eventually learns that form can only last so long.
Jelavic managed an impressive four goals in six league games at the beginning of the 12/13 season but after that, they dried up.
Looking back, the now 35-year-old admits regret at not doing enough.
“Listen, probably I was thinking, ‘I had a good season, I can repeat this’.
“But in my head, I was maybe too relaxed and thought, ‘I can chill a bit after the season’.
“You have to do everything necessary, every single day, to keep that high level of football for many years. I didn’t do this.
“I thought, ‘I can go a little bit easier and still play well’. You need to slow down just one step and you’re gone – and this is what I did.
“I thought, ‘I can play a high level of football with a little bit less training’. If you do that in the Premier League, you disappear, like I did.
“Sometimes, if I didn’t feel well, I skipped training. Before, I would still have trained.
“They are small things but very important. I regret it, I would do it differently today.
“I still think I did a good job at Everton. But, for sure, I could have done much more.”
The club and management at the time did all they could to try and help the forward regain his form. Manager David Moyes even called him in for a meeting and asked: ‘ ‘What can I do to get the old Jelavic back?’
Unfortunately, the man himself didn’t have the answers both of them desperately needed.
Jelavic explains: “I was like, ‘Gaffer, I really don’t know, I am trying to find a solution’.
“He asked me if I’d like to go on the bench for a couple of games. I was playing bad.
“I lost confidence and he felt that – he was trying to help me. But I wanted to play.
“Maybe if I went on the bench for a couple of games, I would have been hungrier. I don’t know?
“The only fact is, I didn’t play well, especially in the second half of the season.
“He eventually put me on the bench and he was 100-per-cent right. Thoughts come to your head, ‘What is going on? Where did it go wrong?’,”
“I’d never been in that situation, so it was a surprise for me.
“This is your job, the job that feeds your family, so it affects your normal life.
“But I made it difficult for myself, nobody else did. The Club and my teammates were trying to help me.
“The supporters were cheering my name and I was grateful for that.”
Jelavic remained unable to provide the answers or rediscover his early form for the Toffees, and by the time Moyes left for Manchester United, and was replaced by Roberto Martinez, his time at the club came to an end despite finding the net twice for his new boss in the opening season’s five league fixtures.
The addition of Romelu Lukaku, only sped up his exit.
“Roberto had a completely different style. He is a good guy and a good coach. I liked him as a man.
“But immediately I could see we didn’t click, in terms of football.
“Hs style was very effective, especially in the first season, but different from what I like.
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“Sitting on the bench was not going to give anything to him, to me or to the Club.”
Jelavic signed for Hull City in the January window of 2014 but following their relagation moved to West Ham United. He then spent four years in China and now plies his trade in n his homeland with Lokomotiva Zagreb but admits”my body can feel the end is coming”.