Nikica Jelavic followed Dado Prso in wearing the Rangers number nine shirt from his home country of Croatia. Dado, a Rangers hero from his time here, was a hard enough player to follow nevermind the fact Nikica was Rangers first monetary transfer in sometime given the financial restraints of the club at the time.
Both left their mark on Rangers, Dado helping the club to two trophies under Alex McLeish between 2004 and 2007 and Nikica the same two trophies between 2010-2011. Both became heroes with huge winning goals and cup final moments, Dado part of the Easter Road Helicopter Sunday team and Nikica part of the side which won title number 54 back in 2011 under Walter Smith, not to mention a League cup final winning goal against Celtic at Hampden.
So fast forward to 2022 and the arrival of fellow Croatian striker and new Rangers number nine Antonio Čolak. The striker arriving last week after a protracted transfer from PAOK at the prime age of 28. Unlike the two previously named forwards, Antonio at least has fellow countrymen here in the shape of Borna Barisic and Nikola Katić which should help his initiation.
In order to find out a bit more about our new man I sought out Nikica Jelavic for a few words about his fellow compatriot. Nikica a man of stature but a gentle giant, speaks softly and is a man of few words. But what he does say is important.
My thanks to Rangers official partner 5 stars for setting this up and putting my questions to Nikica. Last time I spoke with Oli McBurnie about the arrival of John Lundstram and Oli gave a glowing recommendation of his former teammate, given the success of that then hopefully this will bring similar luck!
Rangers have signed Antonio Colak, what message do you have for him?
‘First of all I wish Antonio a warm welcome to the club. We can expect a hard working player who can hold up the ball, who can link up the game and of course score the goals’
What style of striker is he? Given his struggles in Greece and the physical nature of Scottish football, if he is a target man type striker will he be able to translate that to a more physical league?
‘Antonio’s style, first of all he is hard working player, he’s very dangerous in the eighteen yard box’
‘I think Rangers style of game can be very good for him. Hopefully he can step up his physical game immediately, the nature of Scottish football requires maximum physical capacities’
You managed to fit in instantly at Rangers, do you see Antonio having the same effect at Rangers?
‘Definitely from Antonio I am expecting him to settle in quickly. As he is 28 years old we can say that he is at his best age. He also has Borna Barisic and Nikola Katić to help him settle at the club so should not be an issue to fit in instantly’
In terms of Croatian strikers, Dado Prso, yourself and now Antonio, will he be able to follow in your footsteps and what advice would you offer him about his move to Rangers?
‘Well every Croatian has done well at Rangers in the past, not just Dado and myself, I don’t see why Antonio won’t do the same. I am sure he will do the same for the club’
Finally, on the spot, will he score more than Nikica Jelavic did at Rangers? 😁
‘Antonio already showed during his career that he can bring goals, now it remains to be seen how he will develop but certainly I want him to score as many as possible for Rangers’