Suker's Big Hope For Jelavic
Croatia legend says compatriot can become an Everton idol.
Nikica Jelavic is primed to become the 20-goal-a-season striker Everton fans crave.
That is the view of Jelavic's countryman and Croatian football's original hitman Davor Suker.
Since arriving at Goodison in January the 26-year-old has plundered eight goals, taking him to the top of the Blues' scoring charts and strongly suggesting he could become the latest in a long line of iconic frontmen.
"I have seen the goals," Suker (above, playing for Croatia in 2002) told evertonfc.com, referring to his compatriots's unerring brace in the 4-4 draw with Manchester United at the weekend.
"I didn't see the whole game but it was excellent for Everton and Nikica. He is really enjoying the Premier League and I am sure he will do a great job for Everton. I hope that will help Croatia in this summer's European Championships.
"It is not a surprise that he is doing so well. I know him from Croatia, I know him from Rapid Vienna. I know he works very hard and is a player with a great future."
It was during his time in Austria in particular that Suker believes Jelavic's development was at its most fertile. Instead of rushing off after one season in Vienna, he remained with Rapid.
"I remember when I spoke with him when he was at Rapid Vienna," recalled Suker, 44. "He had an excellent coach in Peter Pacult and I told him he is better for staying a couple of years with Peter.
"He was also a coach of mine when I played in Germany for 1860 Munich and he is a guy who works very hard on the preparation of the team and I am sure Nikica will remember this. Sometimes you need to not rush your career; you need to lay good preparations and now he can move on to the main goal of his career."
If the main goal of his career is scoring goals in the Premier League, then the preparations he engaged in in Austria and then Scotland appear to have served him well.
"He is a goalscorer and he is a good person," continued Suker, the hero of Croatia's dark horse campaigns at Euro 96 and World Cup 98. "He can do a great job for Everton. The confidence of the team improves when you know you have a striker who can score goals. When people realise he can score in the first or the 90th minute, it is a good thing.
"Goals today are the difference. Everyone can play football but less people can score goals. It is not basketball where anyone can score. It is more 'diamond' players who can score many, many goals. That is the big difference between the best players.
"To score 20 goals minimum, that is the point of the main striker. For every chairman, every gaffer, when signing a striker, that is the point. He works well on the training ground and he thinks only about football. I think he can score more than 20 goals next season."
Tickets for the visit of Fulham on Saturday are now on general sale. To buy, call 0871 663 1878 or click here.