Robert Jarni in Coventry: 48 hours flat

This summer during the transfer window, So Foot returns every day of the week to a transfer that marked its time in its own way. For this 17e episode, direction the month of August 1998, during which Robert Jarni, coveted after a successful French World Cup with Croatia, signs to everyone’s surprise in Coventry City. Except that the left side will flee to Real Madrid 48 hours after his arrival in the West Midlands.

On that afternoon in August 1998, the sun flooded Coventry City’s last pre-season match, which hosted Espanyol Barcelona of Samuel Eto’o, Mauricio Pochettino and Iván Helguera. In the stands of Highfield Road, eyes turn less towards the lawn than towards the presidential platform where a handsome dark-haired man hidden behind his sunglasses stands out. This is Robert Jarni, aka Croazia Express sinceISS Pro Evolution Soccer rated him as fast as Tijani Babangida. At the dawn of its 30 banks and after a 1998 World Cup which nevertheless made it hype, the one who revealed himself in Bari in 1991 will commit to Coventry for four years, for 2.6 million pounds. Exciting news for supporters of the Sky Blueswho are hoping that coach Gordon Strachan will line up the Croatian left-back the following week for Chelsea’s reception in the 1D Premier League day. But two days later, after having spoken by telephone with his compatriot Davor Šuker and meeting the president of Real Madrid Lorenzo Sanz in a pub-restaurant in Marbella, the 1995 Italian champion with Juventus poses a rabbit in Coventry and goes to English.

“My family were opposed to moving to England”

But why did you pass through Coventry for a few days, which had just finished 11e of the Premier League, before committing to Real? First hypothesis put forward by the British press: his wife Sandra did not want to leave Spain for the depths of the West Midlands, visibly less glamorous than Andalusia. The second: Real Betis Balompié, where he had played since 1995 and his departure from Juventus, wanted to get rid of him after the opening of two disciplinary proceedings against him, allegedly for simulating injuries and for leaving in Croatia before the end of the 1997-98 season. But with Betis unwilling to bolster Guus Hiddink’s Real Madrid, Coventry reportedly acted as a third party allowing the Meringues to sign one of the few players to have moved from Torino to Juventus. A theory considered slightly conspiratorial at the time, but according to which the Sky Blues Reportedly pocketed £1million from the sleight of hand, before investing the sum in buying Crystal Palace right-back Marc Edworthy.

Only here, according to the main interested party, who will reaffirm it at SoFoot in 2017, he would not have initialed a contract with the English club. “Gordon Strachan wanted me to sign for Coventry. He liked the way I played, he liked my performance in La Liga and with the national team, but after getting an offer from Real Madrid I decided to sign for them instead.he explained to the Scottish daily The Herald Sportbefore alluding to the other hypothesis mentioned in August 1998. I wouldn’t say it was my wife’s decision, but a family decision, as my family was opposed to moving to England. We had young children, my daughter was in primary school in Spain, and we preferred to stay there rather than move to England. I was honest about it, and when I told Strachan, he understood. » Quite the opposite of Coventry supporters, dumbfounded by this bad move unlikely. They will recover quickly when they realize that this volte-face will not be crowned with success, because he will leave Madrid the following summer. He will go into exile in Las Palmas, resident of Segunda División, with whom he will know the rise in La Liga, then again the bench. Before getting confused with the Canarian club, which refused to refourguer him at the end of 2001 to Manchester City, pushing him to end up at Panathinaikos. “We did everything we couldconfided Kevin Keegan, the City coach, to the Coventry Telegraph. He has problems with his club, but these are his problems, we will not interfere in that. » Too bad, all you had to do was make a phone call to Coventry.

By Maxime Renaudet

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