We had high hopes for Jelavic but he failed to deliver at West Ham

Croatian striker played a role in our final season at Upton Park, but didn’t live up to the hype

It’s a trip down memory lane and Green Street with the news that former West Ham frontman Nikica Jelavic has hung up his boots.

His time at West Ham was brief, but he arrived with optimism and a strong CV. The fans were hoping he’d be the talisman we needed to make for a fantastic last season at Upton Park.

He was a signing to get excited about, and came with an impressive pedigree. He came to UK shores from Croatia in the 2010-11 season when he joined Rangers.

He spent two years in Scotland, making 56 appearances in all competitions and scoring 36 goals – an impressive goal every 1.5 games.

From Rangers, he moved to Everton in the 2011-12 season. He kept scoring, albeit at a slightly slower rate. He scored 21 goals in 69 games – a goal every three games, which is not to be sniffed at.

A stint in Hull saw his goals-to-games tally dwindle further, but the thought of signing the Rangers and Everton poacher was a positive one to a Hammers side who had been through a substantial number of strikers without attaining a substantial number of goals.

He was signed on a busy day for West Ham United, joining at the same time as Michail Antonio, Victor Moses, and Alex Song – only one of whom has gone on to go the distance in the claret and blue.

He joined during the 2015-16 season under the reign of Slaven Bilic. The fellow Croatian was a very familiar face to Jelavic and a major reason Jelavic came to east London.

They worked together in the Croatian national team while Bilic was managing and Jelavic was shining on the pitch.

He was signed on a two year contract with the option for a further two years – but we didn’t end up even using the full two years we initially got him for.

There were some hesitations when it came to the veteren striker – largely that he was a veteran. At 30, he was no spring chicken up front and it may have been optimistic that he would still be playing up front at 34.

He also was just coming back from an injury at the time of his signing, and had knee surgery on a long-term knee issue earlier in the year.

Jelavic only spent one season at West Ham in the end, making just 15 appearances, and scoring two goals (one in the League and one in the Cup).

Jelavic wasn’t finding the net for the Hammers, and fell down the pecking order after the signing of Emmanuel Emenike (remember him?).

He took the option to move to Chinese second division side Beijing Renhe in a time when many house-hold names were going where the money was – and it was far further east then Upton Park.

The goals started flying in again, and after four successful years at Chinese clubs, he returned closer to home with a move this season to Lokomotiva.

Unfortunately for Jelavic, it’s perhaps no surprise that a knee injury has now forced him into retirement at 35.

There’s no question that Jelavic has had a long and successful career, but his time at West Ham may not have been his favourite chapter in his football book.

While there’s no trace of a bad attitude or any drama in his time in claret and blue, he failed to live up to the goal-grabbing reputation and skillset from Rangers and Everton that fans had hoped for.

Even so, West Ham fans will surely wish him well in his retirement and future off pitch adventures.

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