Last week, just after the leave of Carvalhal from Beşiktaş when the Turkish newspapers mentioned about a probable transfer of Slaven Bilic, I immediately checked the Croatian newspapers to check the rumors. As well known, when the issue is about “transfer” or media is more likely to publish fantastic fictive stories than real news. However, the rumors were verified by Croatian newspapers as well, that Biliç had declared he might think about joining Beşiktaş, following the European Football Championship.
I have a sort of sympathy to Slaven Biliç, since I used a photo of him for an article in this blog that I have written just after the Turkey-Croatia match in Wien in 2008. For some reason, the sorrow in Biliç’s face, and his attempts to solace the tear drops of his footballers seemed to be very ingenuous to me. After the loss of Croatia by penalty kicks, Biliç’s attempts to solace his players like a brother was noticed very clearly. Like a brother, but not like a godfather, which is the usual visage that we, Turkish football fans are familiar to see on Turkish trainers?
Three years after, almost five and a half months before now, when Turkey and Croatia were rooted in play-off match for the European Football Championship, referring to what I have written previosly in my blog, I wrote another article relying on a review of Turkish and Croatian newspapers.
I came up with an interesting thing: Turkish newspapers were mentioning about Croats fear of this draw because of their unforgettable unpleasant experience in 2008. When I checked the newspapers from Croatia, I have seen the cheers for “revenge” and I have seen how they were happy to have the opportunity for the revenge after three years. Among this atmosphere of revenge, Slaven Biliç was distinguished with his speeches free of any hatred discourse. He was mentioning the quality of Turkish team, but emphasizing that Croatia was a better team. He even had uttered the opportunity to take the revenge but even that was not enough for the Croatian media who blamed him to be coward. However, the cool speech of Biliç away from a hatred discourse made my sympathy towards him to increase.
When I checked his career, I have seen that I was not wrong about my views on Biliç. The young trainer, who was born in 1968 was shined when he was playing as a defender in Hajduk Split, in the most brilliant era of Yugoslav football. He was transferred to Karlsruhe with a transfer fee of 750.000 Pounds. After a successful three years experience in Karlsruhe, he had gone to West Ham United with a transfer fee of 1.3 million Pounds. When West Ham was struggling not to relegate, he was offered a transfer of 4.5 million Pounds to Everton. However, he refused this offer until August mentioning that he could not leave his team in the middle of the season.
They say, “One who only claims to know football, does not know football either.” Biliç, a graduate of Faculty of Law, who plays in rock groups from time to time, has a distinct character who does not limit his life with football. Thus, his vision of football goes beyond imagination of many others. Unlike the Croatian nationalist leader Franjo Tudjman who stated that the football victories, like wars do shape the identity of a nation, Biliç has a different perspective on football. He is aware of football’s character as a game, as a part of entertainment and just before the 2008 European Football Championship, he said: “With the greatest respect to women, football is the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Football has a vital role in shaping the Croatian national identity. Croatia can be regarded as one of the countries where football is exploited widely by extreme nationalism. Within this occasion, even his endeavor to be away from heroic statements is itself is a positive attitude. Does it mean that Biliç may not be nationalist? Obviously not. But at least we cannot get the reply of question through his statements. Considering what kind of a nationalist pressure are those trainers of national football teams, I think this is an essential feature of him.
Personally, as afan of Gençlerbirliği, I would be pleasant to see that kind of man to be the trainer of my own team, who pays importance on the beauty of the game. I cannot hide my jealousity when I heard the rumors on a probable move of Biliç to Beşiktaş. For sure, we cannot predict what kind of surprises are likely to wait for Biliç in a team who made trouble with many top-quality trainers. Probably, Biliç would be thinking twice before a move to a team who is likely to cancel contracts with some high quality –and expensive- players, who is struggling with financial crisis and thus who is likely to avoid expensive transfers.
But, apparently Biliç seems to be magnified by Istanbul and fierce fans of Beşiktaş.
(Photo: Jutarnji List)