Slaven Bilić

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Slaven Bilić
Slaven Bilic West Ham Vs Birkrikara (19941778785).jpg
Bilić during a West Ham press conference in 2015
Personal information
Full name Slaven Bilić
Date of birth (1968-09-11) 11 September 1968 (age 47)
Place of birth Split, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 12 in)
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
West Ham United (manager)
Youth career
1977–1988 Hajduk Split
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1988–1993 Hajduk Split 109 (13)
1988 Primorac (loan) 13 (1)
1988–1989 Šibenik (loan) 33 (7)
1993–1996 Karlsruher SC 54 (5)
1996–1997 West Ham United 49 (2)
1997–2000 Everton 28 (0)
2000 Hajduk Split 9 (0)
Total 294 (28)
National team
1992–1999 Croatia 44 (3)
Teams managed
2001–2003 Hajduk Split
2004–2006 Croatia U21
2006–2012 Croatia
2012–2013 Lokomotiv Moscow
2013–2015 Beşiktaş
2015– West Ham United

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Slaven Bilić (pronounced [slâʋen bǐːlit͡ɕ]; born 11 September 1968) is a retired Croatian professional footballer and current manager of English club West Ham United.

His career began in 1988 with his hometown club Hajduk Split and he later had successful spells with Karlsruher SC in Germany, and West Ham United and Everton in England before retiring from active football in 2001. At national level, Bilić served as one of Croatia's most consistent defenders during the tenure of coach Miroslav Blažević, earning 44 caps between 1992 and 1999 and playing in UEFA Euro 1996 and the 1998 FIFA World Cup, helping the team to third place at the latter tournament.

Following his playing retirement in 2001 at Hajduk Split, Bilić coached the team in the second half of the 2001–02 season. Between 2004 and 2006 he managed Croatia under-21 football team, before taking over the senior national side from Zlatko Kranjčar in August 2006. He led the team to the quarter-finals of 2008 European championship and left after the next edition four years later. He was praised for his long-standing service to the national side, and credited with successfully overseeing the introduction of a series of young players from the under-21 squad to the senior side.[1][2] He left for the Russian club FC Lokomotiv Moscow,[3] and then went to Turkey to manage Beşiktaş[4] for two seasons before becoming West Ham manager in June 2015.

Playing career[edit]

Hajduk Split[edit]

Bilić began his career at his hometown club Hajduk Split, whom he joined at the age of nine. He rose through the youth ranks at Hajduk and as part of his football schooling he was loaned out to lower level sides Primorac and Šibenik. First he spent a half-season at Primorac in 1988 and then a season and a half at Šibenik, who were at the time one of the top teams in the Yugoslav Second League. Bilić played there as a centre-back and went on to score 7 goals in 33 appearances. Yugoslav regulations allowed for a player to be dually registered (and eligible to play for both clubs) so players would normally play most of the season at smaller clubs where they were loaned to, but were at the same time allowed a maximum of five appearances for the club they were loaned from during a season. Hajduk manager Petar Nadoveza used this rule and called him up from Šibenik for six matches in the 1988–89 season. He appeared in away games against Vardar, Radnički Niš and Velež, where he scored two goals and was named man of the match in all three appearances.

His performances attracted a lot of attention and other clubs of the Yugoslav big four (Dinamo Zagreb, Crvena Zvezda and Partizan) all expressed interest in bringing him in, but to no effect. He was returned from loan and immediately joined Hajduk's squad for the next season where he quickly established himself as a first-team regular. During the next few years at Hajduk he shared the dressing room with some of the most prominent Hajduk players of that time (such as Ivan Pudar, Jerko Tipurić, Branko Karačić, Nenad Gračan and Bernard Barnjak), as well as other promising young players who would later go on to have successful careers (such as Alen Bokšić, Goran Vučević, Joško Jeličić and Robert Jarni).

Karlsruher SC[edit]

After having spent six seasons with Hajduk, Bilić moved abroad to the Bundesliga side Karlsruher SC in a £750,000 deal in 1993. His performances earned him much praise very early on and he soon became the club's captain (the first ever foreign player to be named club captain in Bundesliga history). After reaching the semi-final of the 1993–94 UEFA Cup with Karlsruhe, he was voted the best centre-back in the Bundesliga.

West Ham United[edit]

In January 1996 Harry Redknapp, manager of Premier League side West Ham United, brought him to the club for a fee of £1.3 million,[5] setting the club's record for highest fee paid for an incoming player. He made his debut on 12 February 1996 in a 1–0 away win against London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. Bilic's shot was saved by Tottenham goalkeeper, Ian Walker, only for West Ham's Dani, another debutant, to divert the ball into the Tottenham goal.[6][7] His form for the Hammers saw him selected for the Croatian national team for the UEFA Euro 1996 held in England. He shone on the international stage as Croatia made their way to the quarter-finals of the tournament where they were beaten by eventual winners Germany.

He scored three goals in his time with West Ham; two in the Premier League, against Liverpool and Sunderland, and one in the League Cup against Barnet, heading-in from a Stan Lazaridis corner, his first for the club.[6][8] Bilic played 13 games in the 1995–96 season and 41 in the 1996–97 season, a season which also saw him voted a runner-up, to Julian Dicks, for the Hammer of the Year award.[6][9]

In March 1997 Everton manager Joe Royle brokered a £4.5M move, with Bilić claiming he had a debt of loyalty to West Ham to stay with the club until the end of the season to ensure they were not relegated.[10] West Ham finished in 14th place, two points above the relegation places.[11]


He turned out for Everton in August 1997, after assuring himself of new manager Howard Kendall's full support, he initially brought some class to Toffee's backline but his season was marred by bookings that saw him miss several games through suspension.[10]

After his exertions in the World Cup 1998, Bilić revealed a nagging groin strain that required rest and treatment, which he took back home in Croatia.[10] After missing the first quarter of the season, Bilić was left wondering if he would get back into the Everton side managed by Walter Smith. He did so and showed some good form but could never fully establish himself due to injuries and suspensions.[10]

Everton released Bilić in July 1999. Just two days later, Bilić signed up with his home club Hajduk Split where he briefly played until retiring.[10]

National team[edit]

Bilic went into the 1998 FIFA World Cup with Croatia and the team were the surprise package of the tournament, reaching the semi-finals, where they were beaten by hosts France. Croatia finished in third place after winning the playoff game.[10]

Bilić was involved in controversy during the tournament for the role he played in the dismissal of Laurent Blanc in the semi-final with France. With Croatia behind, a free kick was awarded which saw Slaven marking the French defender. Bilić held Blanc and to free himself, Blanc pushed Bilić, making contact with his chin and chest. Bilić fell to the ground clutching his forehead. Bilić later admitted that he was acting, and went down only after encouragement from teammate Igor Štimac. Blanc was sent off and missed the World Cup final through suspension.[10] Bilić did not apologize but did say, "I swear if I could change that so [Blanc] could play in the final, I would."[12]



Hajduk Split



Managing career[edit]

Early days[edit]

As a shareholder in his hometown club, Hajduk Split, he temporarily agreed to manage them until the club found a replacement manager. Having admitted that the adrenaline inspired him, he reportedly received guidance after travelling Europe and visiting Arsène Wenger and Marcello Lippi.[13]

Slaven Bilić, together with Aljoša Asanović, managed the Croatian U-21 team for two years during the qualification rounds for the U-21 European championship of 2006. Their team went through the group stage but lost in playoff to Serbia and Montenegro.


Bilić was appointed head coach of the senior national team on 25 July 2006, succeeding Zlatko Kranjčar after the unsuccessful 2006 World Cup. His assistants included former teammates Aljoša Asanović, Robert Prosinečki, Nikola Jurčević, and Marijan Mrmić. One of his first actions in charge of the squad for Slaven Bilić was the promotion of three players from the U-21 squad, who were Eduardo da Silva, Luka Modrić, and Vedran Ćorluka, who would all eventually enjoy impressive success and make transfers to the Barclays Premier League. The team's first official game under Bilić was the 2–0 friendly win in Livorno against Italy, while Bilić's first competitive game was the 0–0 draw in Moscow against Russia in the opener for their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. Many criticized this result due to Bilić's suspension of Dario Srna, Ivica Olić and Boško Balaban who escaped from camp three days before the match and went to night club Fontana in Zagreb. It is likely that no one would have found out, but there was a gunfight and a police intervention.[14] As a result, they were temporarily removed from the squad.

Further in the Euro 2008 qualifiers, he led Croatia to a very successful campaign in a group consisting of England, Russia, Israel, Macedonia, Estonia, and Andorra. Bilić managed to lead Croatia to a first-place finish in Group E, most notably masterminding home and away victories against England, who consequently didn't qualify and sacked their then-manager Steve McClaren.[13] It became England's first ever loss at the new Wembley Stadium. Croatia also managed to equal their highest ever win record as they beat Andorra 7–0.

At the Euro 2008 tournament itself, where he was the youngest coach, Slaven and the rest of his squad had to participate with a "handicap" as they were without their star striker Eduardo, who sustained a serious injury a few months earlier. Nonetheless, Bilić led his side to an outstanding achievement as they won all three group stage games of the competition, taking maximum points in the group for the first time in their history, which included an impressive 2–1 victory over eventual finalists Germany. Even his side's second string reserve side was seen to be too strong for their final group opponents Poland, who they beat 1–0 due to an Ivan Klasnić goal.[15]

Croatia soon became labelled as favourites for the tournament, but they would soon suffer an exit in the quarter finals against Turkey. Though he admitted that the defeat would haunt him and his squad for the rest of their lives,[16] and having revealed thoughts of possible resignation, he eventually pledged to stay on with Croatia and stated that they would return bigger and stronger after the alarming defeat.

Croatia started their qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as one of the favourites to qualify from Group 6 after a promising show at Euro 2008. Their group contained England, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Andorra. Croatia failed to qualify after finishing third, but Bilić decided to stay with the team for at least two more years.

Croatia were placed in Group F for the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Croatia finished second in the group behind Greece, advancing to the play-offs. In the play-offs, Croatia beat Turkey 3–0 on aggregate to advance to the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine. For the finals, Croatia were drawn in Group C alongside Italy, Ireland and world champions Spain.

Croatia opened their tournament campaign with a comfortable 3–1 victory over The Republic of Ireland, with striker Mario Mandžukić scoring twice. Mandžukić continued his run at the tournament with an equalizer in the 1–1 draw against Italy, which was marred by controversial fan reactions and referee decisions from English official Howard Webb. The team ultimately faced a complicated scenario in the buildup to their final group game against reigning champions Spain. Croatia were ultimately succumbed to a 1–0 defeat. Moments before Jesus Navas scored the game's only goal, Vedran Ćorluka was the victim of a neck-tie tackle by Spain defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets on a corner kick which removed Ćorluka from a goal scoring opportunity in the penalty box. The late Spanish goal, along with Italy's victory over The Republic of Ireland, forced Croatia to exit the tournament in the group stage. However, the team subsequently garnered widespread domestic praise for their tournament performance, and were greeted by a large crowd upon their return. Upon his formal departure, Bilić was also praised for his long-standing service to the national side. Domestic media outlet Jutarnji List labelled him as Croatia's only manager to depart on such positive terms and credited him for his strong revival of the national side during his six-year tenure.[1]

FC Lokomotiv Moscow[edit]

On 14 May 2012, it was confirmed that Bilić had signed a coaching contract with the Russian club FC Lokomotiv Moscow.[3] Upon the confirmation of signing, Lokomotiv chairman Olga Smorodskaya stated that Lokomotiv had tough competition in signing Bilić, as he was targeted by many clubs around the Europe who wanted to sign him as their new manager.[17] Bilić took over the team after the Euro 2012 tournament had finished. His assistants included former teammates and former assistants during his tenure as manager in national team Aljoša Asanović and Nikola Jurčević. Upon his arrival he made his first big signing for the team, signing his ex-Croatia national football team player Vedran Ćorluka from Tottenham Hotspur F.C. for a fee of £5.5million. His first official match as the new Lokomotiv manager came on 20 July 2012 in away match against Mordoviya Saransk, ending in 3:2 win for FC Lokomotiv Moscow. Bilić's first season as a manager ended with the Lokomotiv's worst league result (9th place) since the establishment of Russian championship in 1992. Bilić accepted responsibility for Lokomotiv's failure and was sacked on 18 June 2013.[18]

Bilić managing Beşiktaş

Beşiktaş J.K.[edit]

After leaving Lokomotiv, Bilić entered talks to take over as Beşiktaş manager. The deal was confirmed on 26 June 2013 after an agreement to a three-year contract worth 4.8 million. Bilić signed the contract on 28 June 2013.[4] On 22 September 2013, Bilić was sent-off from the bench by referee Fırat Aydınus during the İstanbul Derby against Galatasaray S.K. after Bilić had complained about the amount of time added by the referee.[19] Beşiktaş's president, Fikret Orman, announced on 21 May 2015 that Bilić would leave the club at the end of the 2014–15 season.[20]

West Ham United[edit]

Bilić was appointed manager of English Premier League club West Ham United on 9 June 2015 on a three-year contract.[21] In his first Premier League game, West Ham beat Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates.[22] Three weeks later he became the first manager to lead West Ham to victory against Liverpool at Anfield since 1963.[23] On the 19 September 2015, Bilić lead West Ham to a third successive away win 2:1 against Manchester City. It was the first time the Hammers have won three successive Premier League away games since September 2007,[24] only three other sides have recorded away wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in the same Premier League season - Everton (1995-96), Manchester United (2004-05) and Chelsea (2005-06).[25]

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 22 November 2015[26]
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Hajduk Split 2001 2002 16 11 3 2 68.75
Croatia U-21 2004 2006 19 8 4 7 42.11
Croatia 2006 2012 65 42 15 8 64.62
Lokomotiv Moscow 2012 2013 32 13 7 12 40.63
Beşiktaş 2013 2015 91 47 22 22 51.65
West Ham United 2015 Present 20 9 4 7 45.00
Total 243 130 55 58 53.50

Management style[edit]

Bilić has said in a post tournament interview that he and his players compiled and studied many games of their opponents to become very well prepared for tough matches.[27]

Known to be a big fan of music, Bilić relates his teams motivation to such, often encouraging them to listen to inspiring music before and after games. He went on to state "I cannot do my job without music, I need it to relax".[28]


  • "Wake up! You did not score your two goals because you had two strikers up front, we were simply the better team."[29] (During his post match interview after Croatia beat England 3–2 at Wembley)."
  • "Only Kaka is better than Modrić.[30]
  • "With the greatest respect to women, football is the most beautiful thing in the world."[31]
  • "The team's philosophy is 'power to the people.' There are no rich or poor here. No classes. That's why I can say that I am endeavoring for a socialist team." (Post-match interview after Beşiktaş beat Gaziantepspor 2–0 in Spor Toto Super Lig).[32]
  • "We parked the bus but we did not put the handbrake on [...] when a bus moves with the ball that is just great defending." (Post-match interview after West Ham United beat Liverpool at Anfield for the first time in 52 years.) [33]

Personal life[edit]

Along with his native Croatian, Bilić is fluent in German, Italian, and English, while he also holds a degree in law.[34] As a big fan of rock music, he plays rhythm guitar with his favored red Gibson Explorer and is a member of Rawbau, a Croatian rock group.[35] In 2008, the band recorded a song for Croatia's performance at Euro 2008 called "Vatreno ludilo" ("Fiery Madness").[36] Bilić has identified himself as a socialist, and has said "If you know to share what you own, you live happily and with honor. I am a true socialist. I know I can't save the world on my own; but if there is a struggle against unjustness, I always prefer to be on the frontline, and that is my attitude toward life."[37]


  1. ^ a b "Ponosni smo sto smo imali bas ovakvog Slavena Bilica". Jutarnji List. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Rupnik, Borna (10 May 2012). "Slaven Bilić objavio popis za pripreme i potvrdio odlazak na kraju Europskog prvenstva". (in Croatian). Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Славен Билич – новый главный тренер "Локомотива" (in Russian). FC Lokomotiv Moscow. 14 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Mihaela, Bradovski (25 June 2013). "Turski mediji: Slaven Bilić je novi trener Bešiktaša" (in Croatian). Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Internet Soccer Database". Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c "Welcome to the Wonderful World of West Ham United Statistics — Slaven Bilic". Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Moore, Glenn (13 February 1996). "Football: Dani buoys West Ham on debut". The Independent. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "Bilic gets on his bike to save Hammers". Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Green is Hammer of the Year". Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Club Connector:Slaven Bilic". Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Premier League 1996–97". Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Jonathan (11 October 2006). "The moment Bilić took carte Blanc to enter World Cup infamy". The Independent (London: Independent News & Media). Retrieved 2 July 2008. [dead link]
  13. ^ a b Jackson, Jamie (1 June 2008). "Fire in Bilic burns bright". London: Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  14. ^ "Srna, Balaban i Olić zbog odlaska na narodnjake suspendirani za Moskvu!" (in Croatian). Jutarnji list. 3 September 2006. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  15. ^ Jackson, Jamie (18 June 2008). "Klasnic caps a remarkable comeback". The Hindu. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  16. ^ Football 2010 (21 June 2008). "'This will haunt us for the rest of our lives,' weeps devastated lionheart Bilic". Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  17. ^ "Predsjednica Lokomotiva: Za Bilića smo se borili s klubovima iz Premiershipa" (in Croatian). 14 May 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  18. ^ AFP (20 June 2013). "Football: Bilic sacked after one season in Russia". Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Bilic tribüne gönderildi" [Bilic sent off from the bench] (in Turkish). 22 September 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  20. ^ Sarigul, Emre. "Slaven Bilic to leave Besiktas at end of season amid West Ham speculation". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  21. ^ "Slaven Bilic: West Ham appoint former defender as manager". 9 June 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  22. ^ Osborne, Chris (9 August 2015). "Arsenal 0 - 2 West Ham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  23. ^ Dawkes, Phil (29 August 2015). "Liverpool 0 - 3 West Ham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  24. ^ "Man City 1-2 West Ham: Slaven Bilic hails 'great night'". BBC Sport. 19 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  25. ^ Jurejko, Jonathan (19 August 2015). "Man City 1 - 2 West Ham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  26. ^ "Slaven Bilić's Managerial statistics". 13 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  27. ^ "Slaven Bilic: Encouraging my players is my way of doing things". London: The Independent. 14 June 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  28. ^ Hall, Matthew (23 March 2008). "Coach Bilic rocks Croatian team with pastime revelation". Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  29. ^ Collins, Roy (8 June 2008). "Croatian Euro 2008 success could spark Premier League chase for Slaven Bilic". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  30. ^ Kay, Alex (9 March 2011). "The magic of Modric: Croatian midfielder shows there's more to Spurs than Bale and Van der Vaart". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 December 2011. 
  31. ^ Ley, John (16 June 2008). "Euro 2008: The life and loves of Slaven Bilic". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  32. ^ "Bilic's 'socialist' Beşiktaş maintains 100 percent record with Gaziantepspor victory". 2 September 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  33. ^ "Liverpool vs West Ham 0 : 3 - Slaven Bilic post-match interview". 
  34. ^ "UEFA EURO 2008 – Slaven Bilic Profile". [dead link]
  35. ^ "Slaven Bilic & Rawbau". Retrieved 20 May 2008. 
  36. ^ Vatreno ludilo – Slaven Bilic & Rawbau – Navijacka Himna. marijanusbanus. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  37. ^ "Paylaşmayı Bilirseniz Onurunuzla Yaşayabilirsiniz" (in Turkish). 1 August 2013. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Zlatko Kranjčar
0Croatia national football team manager0
Succeeded by
Igor Štimac