With Nikica Jelavić announcing his retirement this past Monday, we take a look back at some of his most memorable moments with the club...
| Nikica Jelavic has today hung up those goalscoring boots...— Everton (@Everton) March 1, 2021
Happy retirement, Jela!
January 31, 2012 was a memorable day for many Blues. Steven Pienaar made his return to the club after a disappointing spell at Spurs, new signing Darron Gibson rocked the Blues to a 1-0 win over Manchester City, and Jelavić was unveiled at half-time of the heroic victory as Everton’s new number seven.
The then-26-year-old had enjoyed a prolific career at Rapid Wien and Rangers before making the move to Everton on deadline day. The Blues certainly needed a spark, as up until Jelavić joined, they held a relatively disappointing league record of eight wins, five draws, and ten losses in the first half of the 2011-12 season. The strike force at the time of Louis Saha, Victor Anichebe, Apostolos Vellios, and Denis Stracqualursi had managed only six league goals combined throughout that time. Needless to say, help was needed.
Many supporters will remember Jelavić’s terrific start to his Everton career, scoring nine goals in 13 league matches. Six of those came in April, two of which occurred in the memorable 4-4 draw at Old Trafford, as he went on to win the Premier League Player of the Month for his efforts (Jelavić’s goals at 0:52 and 4:14, but the whole video is worth watching).
Cue that unforgettable song:
Following Jelavić’s heroics against the Red Devils, The Liverpool Echo wrote an article on his terrific one-touch goalscoring record.
“Remarkably, Jelavić plunders almost all his goals with first-time strikes. He has taken just 47 touches to net 44 goals for Rangers and Everton since May 2011 – and his last 27 have all been one-touch finishes. Since his first Premier League goal for the Blues, on March 10, only Wayne Rooney (eight) and Papiss Cisse (nine) have found the net more.”
There’s a reason why supporters sang that his second-touch was a celebration.
Despite the Blues starting off the season poorly, Jelavić’s spark helped Everton finish the season off strong with a record of seven wins, six draws, and only two losses to Arsenal and Liverpool, securing a seventh-placed finish. Jelavić also helped his side to a remarkable cup run that season, scoring once and assisting twice in the FA Cup quarter-final and subsequent replay against Sunderland. Check out those limbs at 2:11:
Jelavić then notched Everton’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Liverpool in the semi-final.
Jelavić kept going that following summer, scoring his first competitive international goal for Croatia in Euro 2012:
Jelavić looked off-and-running to start the 2012-13 campaign, scoring four goals in Everton’s first seven matches of the season. However, the striker took a bit of a tumble, going on to net only three goals and notch one assist in Everton’s remaining 30 games.
But there are two memorable goals that season that will always stick out in supporters’ hearts: his last-minute winner against Spurs (and hat grab) and late goal to seal a 2-0 win over Manchester City:
Despite a few bright spots in his first full season with the club, the Croatian couldn’t seem to find his form from the season prior and was subsequently relegated to the bench in favour of Victor Anichebe for the second half of the season.
His final season with the club from 2013-14 wasn’t favourable for the striker either. He played second fiddle to newcomer Romelu Lukaku, who had joined on loan from Chelsea. Jelavić was scarcely used and managed only a few brief appearances late on in matches.
Jelavić’s final match in a Blue shirt came in a 4-0 thumping of QPR in the third round of the FA Cup. His performance in the match summed up his rather inconsistent time at the club; a 20-yard screamer, wonderful finish off a cross, and a failed panenka which rattled off the crossbar to deny him a hat-trick (goals at 0:32, 0:49, and penalty at 1:12).
It was only a week later that Jelavić completed a permanent move to Hull City, thus ending his short-lived Everton career. During his two years with the club, the Croatian went on to make 69 appearances for the Blues, netting 21 goals and managing six assists in all competitions.
After a year or two of relative success at Hull, Jelavić made a move to West Ham United, which yielded just one goal in 13 league games. He then had a few successful years in China before officially hanging up his boots this past Monday after a short stay at Croatian side Lokomotiva. Many of his post-Everton years were met with injuries, which ultimately led to his retirement at the age of 35.
Despite a disappointing ending to an otherwise hopeful signing in Everton’s recent history, many Blues will always remember his remarkable scoring form in that second half of the 2011-12 season and his other flashes of brilliance.
Enjoy retirement, Jela. Thanks for all the goals and a catchy tune which I still find myself humming to this day.
And last but not least...my all-time favorite memory of Jelavić...an absolute classic.
You can watch all of Jelavić’s league goals for the Blues below.