Mate Bilić

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Mate Bilić
Personal information
Full name Mate Bilić
Date of birth (1980-10-23) 23 October 1980 (age 36)
Place of birth Split, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
Hajduk Split
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1998–2001 Hajduk Split 66 (19)
1999 Mosor (loan)
2001–2004 Zaragoza 18 (1)
2002–2003 Almería (loan) 31 (9)
2003–2004 Sporting Gijón (loan) 41 (15)
2004–2005 Córdoba 31 (3)
2005–2006 Lleida 40 (18)
2006–2008 Rapid Wien 54 (17)
2008–2013 Sporting Gijón 160 (42)
2013–2015 RNK Split 39 (13)
Total 480 (137)
National team
1996 Croatia U17 2 (0)
1998–1999 Croatia U19 6 (2)
2000–2001 Croatia U21 8 (4)
2009–2010 Croatia 6 (3)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Mate Bilić (born 23 October 1980) is a Croatian retired footballer who played as a striker.

During his professional career he played mainly in Spain – where he arrived at the age of 21 – representing five different clubs. He amassed La Liga totals of 124 games and 22 goals over the course of five seasons in representation of Sporting de Gijón and Zaragoza, adding 197/66 in Segunda División.

Club career[edit]

Born in Split, Croatia, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bilić began his professional career in 1997 at hometown club HNK Hajduk Split, and went on to establish himself as a regular during the 1999–2000 season, after a season-long loan spell with NK Mosor in the Croatian second division. In two separate campaigns he scored 15 league goals for Hajduk, including nine in 2000–01 as the side won their fourth Prva HNL title.

At the end of August 2001, Bilić transferred to La Liga with Real Zaragoza, but failed to impress as he only netted once in 18 league appearances. Between 2002 and 2006 he would represent, one season each, UD Almería, Sporting de Gijón, Córdoba CF and UE Lleida (all clubs playing in the second level).[1]

In June 2006, Bilić signed with Austrian Bundesliga's SK Rapid Wien. However, in January 2008, he returned to Spain and Gijón, helping the Asturian team return to the top flight after a ten-year absence by scoring ten times, in spite of playing in roughly only half of the games.[2]

On 13 September 2008 Bilić scored a sour hat-trick at Sevilla FC, as Sporting was eventually downed 3–4.[3] During the campaign he again formed an effective offensive partnership with David Barral, with the pair combining 22 league goals for an eventual retaining of the club's league status; in the following years he was much more sparingly used, only netting one official goal in the 2010–11 campaign, in the Copa del Rey against RCD Mallorca (2–2 home draw, 3–5 aggregate loss).[4]

International career[edit]

Between 1996 and 2001 Bilić won a total of 16 caps for the Croatian under-17, under-19 and under-21 national teams, scoring six goals. However, he was also eligible to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina before making his full international debut for Croatia, as his parents hailed from Tomislavgrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina.[5]

Croatia head coach Slaven Bilić first called his namesake for a friendly game against Romania on 11 February 2009, but he did not feature in that match. He eventually made his full international debut on 14 October 2009, in the nation's final 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan in Astana, coming on as a substitute for Mario Mandžukić in the 63rd minute; Croatia won the game 2–1, but failed to reach the play-offs after finishing third in their group.

On 14 November 2009 Bilić scored his first international goals, in a friendly with Liechtenstein in Vinkovci, helping to a final 5–0 success – the first of his two came only 42 seconds after kick-off.[6] On 19 May 2010, in another exhibition game, against Austria in Klagenfurt, he replaced Mladen Petrić at the hour-mark and netted the only goal of the match in the 86th minute.[7]

International goals[edit]

Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1–2 14 November 2009 HNK Cibalia, Vinkovci, Croatia  Liechtenstein
3 19 May 2010 Hypo-Arena, Klagenfurt, Austria  Austria


External links[edit]