Nikica Jelavic: Man without a neck. (Getty)
"Goals, goals and more goals" -- Nikica Jelavic when asked what he would bring to Everton, February 2012
This was a tough call. Mario Mandzukic, who is playing for a transfer after Wolfsburg decided not to renew his contract, scored the two goals in Croatia's 3-1 win over Ireland that Nikica Jelavic did not and is also very deserving of your attention. So if you have the ability to remember two names from one day, those two are good ones. But here we will be focusing on Mr. Jelavic.
When Ivica Olic suffered a thigh injury that ruled him out of Euro 2012, there was some concern about Croatia's ability to score goals. It managed to go undefeated in Group B of Euro 2008 while scoring just four times, yet it's almost equaled that total in its first match, partially because Olic's injury allowed Jelavic to step into the starting XI. (That's not to suggest a conspiracy behind Olic getting hurt, but feel free to invent one involving Gary Oldman and a conflicted gym employee.)
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The 26-year-old Jelavic lived up to his promise to Everton, scoring 11 goals in just 16 matches since joining from Rangers (where he scored 36 in 55 appearances) in February. Relatively new to the Croatian national team, he was first capped in 2009 and is playing his first major tournament despite not appearing in a single Euro 12 qualifier (though he was with the team then). Prior to the match against Ireland, he had only scored in two friendlies. This was most likely a clever ruse that Jelavic laughs about in his private moments or in public when he doesn't care about looking insane.
"He's got ice running through his veins and nothing bothers him," says Everton teammate Phil Neville. "He isn't bothered about interviews. He just wants to play football and go home." Does he ever stop off at the shop for a Man Town candle? What part of "football and home" don't you understand?
But in the interest of knowing him a little better, here are a few morsels of information I just made up about him:
-He covers his chin with his shirt after he scores because it secretes fluids when he's excited.
-Has never made a whistling sound while breathing through his nose.
-He briefly considered becoming a puppy dentist, but decided to play football instead just because it pays slightly better.
-Has a large collection of ham advertisements.
-His suits are all custom made by Luka Modric.
-Likes the taste of warm fruit.
The name to forget from day three of Euro 2012: Fernando Torres :(
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