He never started a Premiership game and scored no goals.
To be fair to Balaban, his career took off after leaving Villa, with successful spells at Club Brugge and Dinamo Zagreb. I have had Igor Stimac, Slaven Bilic, Davor Suker. They said Deadly Doug was tight, but you can hardly blame him after Ellis fished £6m out of his humbug tin for John Gregory to spend, and the manager came back with the elusive Croatian. “They’re fantastic boys. Here is a list of Croatian footballers who have played in the English Premiership:
Aljo?a Asanovic – Derby County – 1996-98 Bo?ko Balaban – Aston Villa – 2001-02 Slaven Bilic – West Ham United, Everton – 1995-99 Igor Bi?can – Liverpool – 2000-05 Alen Bok?ic – Middlesbrough – 2000-03 Vedran Corluka – Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur F.C. Fantastic footballers and all great guys.”
Croatian Arrivals From 1995
For a small new independent nation of 4.5 million people, Croatia has, as English fans will confirm, punched above its weight, and their players have made significant contributions to the English Premiership since 1995.
First on the plane was current national coach, Slaven Bilic, who had a distinguished career with West Ham and Everton, while Davor Suker became a cult hero at Highbury. He is one of four Croatians in the Tottenham squad, Redknapp being a huge fan of Croatian players, having also signed a number during his tenure in charge of Portsmouth.
“I would say the best players I ever managed in my life have been Croatian boys,” Redknapp said. Robert Prosinecki was a genius. – 1996-01 Davor ?uker – Arsenal, West Ham United – 1999-01 Boris ivkovic – Portsmouth – 2003-04
This summer’s transfer speculation has included the usual suspects, such as Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona from Arsenal, but there is also a similar battle of wills over at White Hart Lane, as Spurs boss Harry Redknapp tries to fend off interest from Chelsea, Manchester United and other clubs for his Croatian star, Luka Modric.Harry Redknapp and the Croatian Factor
Modric has been an inspirational signing for Redknapp and is at the heart of the team’s recent success. So bad in fact that he made The Times list of 50 Worst Footballers in the Premiership, with this entry at 41:. – 2007- Eduardo – Arsenal – 2007-10 Nikola Jerkan – Nottingham Forest – 1996-97 Nikola Kalinic – Blackburn Rovers – 2009- Ivan Klasnic – Bolton Wanderers – 2009- Niko Kranjcar – Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur – 2006- Silvio Maric – Newcastle United – 1998-2000 Luka Modric – Tottenham Hotspur – 2008- Stipe Pletikosa – Tottenham Hotspur – 2010- Robert Prosinecki – Portsmouth – 2001-02 Ivica Mornar – Portsmouth – 2003-04, 2005-06 Mario Stanic – Chelsea – 2000-04 Igor ?timac – Derby County, West Ham United F.C. Croatian skills were on view from 1996 at Derby County, with the double signing of Aljo?a Asanovic and Igor ?timac.
Less Successful Croatian Stars
While the bulk of Croatian stars gracing the Premiership have enjoyed success, there have been exceptions, most notably Bo?ko Balaban, whom Aston Villa fans will remember as one of the worst buys in the club’s history